King drops final two matches of West Georgia Invite

CARROLLTON, Ga. – The King University women's volleyball team had a quick turnaround on Saturday after their matches on Friday at the University of West Georgia Invitational. The Tornado faced the University of West Alabama in what was a back-and-forth affair that saw the Tigers escape with a narrow 3-2 victory. King then fell to Valdosta State University 3-0 in the nightcap.

King opened the first set against West Alabama (2-1) on fire, scoring six straight points to take a 7-2 lead early in the match. Kelsey Griffitts recorded King's first two kills of the match, and Maribeth Kern followed with one of her own to give King a 3-2 lead. Kern later served an ace, and Summer Kremer added a kill later in the run. The Tornado held their lead there, and extended it with another 6-0 run late in the set. Casey Williams served two aces, and Griffitts added a kill on the spurt that gave the Tornado a 22-10 advantage. King went on to take the set 25-17.

However, the Tigers answered in the second set, jumping out to a quick 9-3 lead. The Tornado came back to cut the deficit to one four times throughout the set, the last time at 20-19, but the Tigers had an answer each time en route to the 25-20 second set win.

After dropping the first point of the third set, the King offense came to life again, scoring eight straight points. Kremer registered a kill on the run while Kern capped the spurt with back-to-back aces. The Tornado held that lead all set, before scoring the final five points of the frame. Grace Underwood started the run with a kill, and after a Kremer kill, she put away two more to give King a chance at set point. Mariah Herington followed with a kill, giving the Tornado the 25-15 win, and 2-1 lead in the match.

The final two sets were the closest of the match as West Georgia kept the match a live with a narrow 25-23 fourth set victory. There were seven ties and three lead changes in the fourth set, the final tie coming at 15-15. At that point, West Alabama gained a little separation and held off a late King rally to extend the match.

Neither team wanted to give in as there were 12 ties and five lead changes in the fifth set. With the score tied at four, the Tornado went on a short 3-0 run capped by a Herington kill that forced a Tiger timeout. Out of the break, the Tigers scored four of the next five points to even the score at eight apiece. The score was again tied at 13, 14, 15 and 16 before the Tigers got back-to-back kills to escape with the 18-16 win, taking the match 3-2.

Kremer and Griffitts pace the offense once again with 13 and 11 kills, respectively. Griffitts also registered a team-high six blocks while Olivia Underwood dished out 35 assists. Defensively, Kern set a career-high with 25 digs while Payton Tipton registered 21 digs of her own.

Later in the afternoon, King faced Valdosta State who had won their three previous matches of the tournament. The Blazers (4-0) grabbed the lead early in the match and didn't look back. The Tornado (1-3) were within one point at 13-12 when the Valdosta State offense picked up. The Blazers followed with a 9-0 run to gain command of the set en route to the 25-13 first set win.

It looked as though King would even the score in the second set as they held the lead early in the frame. Sarah Collins gave King an 11-9 lead with one of her three kills in the match. However, the Blazers had an answer for every point and finally grabbed the lead at 18-17. The Tornado regained the lead at 21-20 on a Jordan Baty kill, but the Blazers bounced back with consecutive points and went on to take the set 25-22.

Again in the third set, the Tornado grabbed an early lead, this time at 6-3, and again the Blazers came back. Valdosta State scored five straight points to gain the lead, and never looked back. The Blazers stretched their lead to five points on multiple occasions before scoring the final five points to take the set 25-17 and the match 3-0.

Kremer led the King offense with nine kills while Olivia Underwood handed out 13 assists. Tipton registered nine digs to lead the defense.

Both Kremer and Griffitts were named to the all-tournament team.

King will be in action again on Friday and Saturday at their home tournament. The Tornado will face Southern Wesleyan University and Carson-Newman University on Friday before taking on UVa-Wise and Concord University on Saturday. All of King's matches will be held in the Student Center Complex.