Net Play and Defense Lead to Second Straight Five-Set Victory
BRISTOL, Tenn. – In a back-and-forth affair that featured two teams playing out of conference at a neutral site, the King Lady Tornado reigned supreme in a matchup against the USC-Aiken Pacers on Friday night. King earned its second straight five-set win (25-20, 17-25, 25-15, 15-25, 15-10) to improve to 5-4 overall on the season, led by Summer Kremer's 18 kills on the night.
King bounced out to an early first set victory, 25-20, beginning the battle that swayed over the course of give games. After the Pacers came back and earned a 25-17 second set victory, both teams swapped 10-point game victories to keep the score tied at two games apiece, leading to the decisive game five.
King wasted no time in jumping out to an early lead, taking a 5-3 advantage behind three kills by Summer Kremer early in the set. With help from kills by Mariah Herington (Jonesborough, Tenn.) and Grace Underwod (Pearland, Texas) the Lady Tornado increased their lead to five points and maintained that lead to the very end. Kremer ended as strong as she started the set, closing out the last two points in King's victory, 15-10.
Kremer led the team with 18 kills on 46 attempts and was one of three Lady Tornado players to finish in double-digit kills on the night. Underwood and Herington each finished with 11 kills and hit .350 or better on the attack. Herington hit at the highest mark of all, closing with a .450 attack percentage on 11-of-20 attempts and committing only two errors. Underwood converted 11-of-21 attempts with only three errors, good for a .381 attack percentage.
While the Lady Tornado offense was strong out of the gate, the defense helped King both gain momentum and keep themselves distanced from the Pacers in their victories. Sophomore Payton Tipton (Cleveland, Tenn.) once again led the team in digs (13) though Brooke Calhoun (Jonesborough, Tenn.) joined her in double digits with 12 of her own. Freshman Maribeth Kern (Buchanan, Va.) was one dig short of double digits (9) while teammates Olivia Underwood (Pearland, Texas) and Heather Harvey (Kingsport, Tenn.) each added seven digs in the team's 72 total.
At the net, Kelsey Griffitts (Bristol, Va.) had 3.5 total blocks, two of which were solo, to help lead King in the block advantage, 10-5. King totaled 13 block assists and three solo blocks at the net to help them toward the win. Herington and Griffitts each had three block assists while four different players had a pair, each.
Olivia Underwood recorded 48 of the team's 55 assists and added three kills to her line.
Leading the way for USC-Aiken was Ashley Deidrich, who finished the night with 13 kills and six digs, but committed five service errors in the loss. Shannon Byers tallied 12 kills and 10 digs for a double-double on the night.
King (5-4, 1-0) will jump back into Conference Carolinas play with a match against Limestone College in Gaffney, S.C. on Saturday. First service is set for 2 p.m. with live stats available for the match.