Three Tornado players ended the night with double-digit dig totals while Ashley Pittman (Norris, Tenn.) continued her explosive play with 15 kills to lead King (8-7, 2-0) to victory.
King took the first game in commanding fashion, 25-15, but dropped a hard fought second game to the Crusaders. The third match proved to be a tide turner, needing extra points to determine a victor and ultimately swaying the momentum in King's favor. After jumping out to an early lead in the third set, Belmont Abbey made a comeback to take a tie deep into the game. King took advantage of three crucial attack errors by the Crusaders before freshman Payton Tipton (Cleveland, Tenn.) finished the set off with back-to-back kills to give the Tornado a 2-1 lead in the match.
Natalie Brown (Brentwood, Tenn.) led King on a seven service run midway through the final set, pacing the Tornado to a 25-21 fourth set win. With a three-point lead, Pittman put away her final kill of the night followed by the game-ending point off an attack error by Belmont Abbey, giving King the win in front of a roaring crowd at the Student Center Complex.
Pittman led the team with 15 kills while Shannon Earwood (Carson City, Nev.) had 48 of the teams 51 assists on the night. Brown, Tipton and Joscelyn Knott (Lake Mary, Fla.) all finished with ten or more digs. Brown reached 21 digs against the Crusaders while Tipton had 13 and Knott a dozen. Kirsten Hamel (Weaverville, N.C.) had three block assists and a solo block while teammate Kelsey Griffitts (Bristol, Va.) also had three block assists.
King will battle conference preseason favorite and local rival Lees-McRae on Saturday, Sept. 24 at home. First service will take place at 2:00 p.m. from the Student Center Complex. Live video of the match will be available, free of charge, at the online home for Tornado Athletics, www.KingTornado.com.