CARROLTON, Ga. – The King University women's volleyball team opened their season with a pair of matches at the University of West Georgia Invitational. The Tornado fell to the host Wolves 3-1 to open the tournament, but rebounded with a 3-1 win over Notre Dame College (Ohio).
The Tornado started off the University of West Georgia Invitational against the host Wolves in what was a back-and-forth match early. In the first set there were six lead changes and nine ties, the last coming at 14-14. King held a 13-12 lead before the Wolves (1-0) went on a run, scoring two straight points to take the lead. After King evened the score at 14, West Georgia rolled off four consecutive points to force Tornado head coach Chris Toomey to call timeout. Out of the timeout Summer Kremer registered one of her eight kills, and Casey Williams followed with a service ace to pull King within two. However, the Tornado could not overcome the deficit, dropping the first set 25-20.
In the second set, King opened up a 7-4 lead before the Wolves came back to even the score at 8-8 and they took a 10-8 lead before Kelsey Griffitts ended the West Georgia spurt. Maribeth Kern then sparked a 3-0 Tornado run that gave King a 12-11 lead with one of her six kills in the match. Again with the score tied at 14, West Georgia went on a run, grabbing a 16-14 lead and extending the advantage to 19-15 before King called for a timeout. The break didn't slow down the Wolves' offense as they took the frame 25-16.
The King offense came alive in the third set, recording a .333 hitting percentage in the frame. Kern started the set with a kill and Williams followed with back-to-back aces to give the Tornado and early 3-0 lead. Coming out of a timeout, Sarah Collins pushed the King lead to 10-3 with a kill. Lauren Willoughby sparked a 6-0 King run with a kill that put the Tornado ahead 14-6, and Kern capped the spurt with a service as to give King a 19-7 lead. Following a West Georgia point, Kern started another run with a kill and Payton Tipton followed with a service ace as the Tornado kept the match alive with the 25-8 third set win.
The Wolves came out and seemed to reverse the momentum early in the fourth set, but the Tornado came back to take an 8-7 lead on a Jordan Baty kill. However, West Georgia answered with three straight points to regain a lead they never relinquished. The Wolves scored the final six points of the set to take the frame 25-15 and the match 3-1.
Kremer led the Tornado with eight kills while Kern and Griffitts both followed with six kills apiece. Olivia Underwood dished out a team-high 21 assists, and Tipton posted 14 digs to lead the Tornado.
King (1-1) fell behind Notre Dame (0-1) early in the first set, but came back to even the score at 14 on a Tipton service ace. Kremer followed with a kill before Underwood served up back-to-back aces. Grace Underwood had a kill later in the run, and Olivia Underwood forced a Notre Dame timeout with another ace giving King a 21-14 lead. After the timeout, Kremer ripped a kill, and Brooke Calhoun recorded an ace before Mariah Herington gave King a chance at set point with a kill. The Tornado capped the 13-0 run to take the first set 25-14.
The roll continued in the second set as Kern and Griffitts both recorded kills to give King a 3-0 lead. The Falcons came back to even the score at 14 before the Tornado began to pull away. Grace Underwood ripped a kill, and Calhoun followed with consecutive aces to put King up 17-14. King held that lead, before Kern and Griffitts drilled consecutive kills to give King the 25-21 win to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
The third set was the tightest of the match as neither team led by more than three points, and there were 14 ties and six lead changes. The Tornado held a 23-22 advantage, and it seemed as though they would sweep, but the Falcons had other ideas. Angela Bush registered a pair of kills around a Tawny Flareau kill for the final three points of the set as Notre Dame forced a fourth set with the 25-23 win.
The King offense started the fourth set on fire with five consecutive kills to earn the early advantage. The Tornado extended their lead to 12-2 after a 6-0 spurt. Later in the set, King scored six of seven points to stretch their lead to 23-8 before the Falcons tried to come back. Notre Dame cut their deficit to 24-14, but Kremer ended the match with her 12th kill to give the Tornado their first win of the season.
Kremer led the Tornado with 17 kills, and had an attack percentage of .615 in the match. Griffitts followed 12 kills and an attack percentage of .529 while Olivia Underwood dished out 30 assists and registered five service aces. Tipton also recorded five aces, and she led the team with 10 digs.
The Tornado will be in action again tomorrow at the University of West Georgia Invitational when they face University of West Alabama at 9:00 a.m. and Valdosta State University at 2:00 p.m.