BRISTOL, Tenn. – For the first time in two weeks, the King University women's volleyball team got the comfort of playing in front of their home fans. The Tornado got off to a slow start, but King's serving and defense carried them to the 3-0 sweep of Erskine College in Conference Carolinas play.
In the latest NCAA rankings, King ranks eighth in the country in aces per set, and the Tornado relied on their stellar serving tonight. The Tornado ended two sets with aces, and accounted for 17 aces in the match. The serving helped King turn in one of their best defensive efforts of the season as four Tornado reached double figures in digs to lead King to the 3-0 victory.
Erskine (8-14, 7-8 CC) opened the match on fire, scoring the first five points which forced King head coach Chris Toomey to call timeout. The Flying Fleet scored the first point out of the break to stretch the run to 6-0 before Summer Kremer got King on the board with a kill. The Tornado gradually worked their way back into the set, evening the score at 14. It was only fitting that King would take their first lead on a service ace as Grace Underwood served on up to give King an 18-17. After an Erskine timeout, Underwood registered the second of her four aces on the night to give King a 20-17 lead. Kelsey Griffitts registered a kill, and Kremer followed with her fourth kill of the set before the frame ended on a Payton Tipton service ace at 25-21.
The Flying Fleet opened quick again in the second set, but Kremer brought King (23-4, 12-1 CC) back with consecutive kills to even the frame at three. The Tornado then took a 7-4 lead following three straight Tipton service aces. The Tornado gradually extended their lead from that point before Mariah Herington ended the 25-20 set win with one her five kills in the match.
King opened the third set with three straight points, including back-to-back aces by Blair Fields. However, Erskine came back to take the lead, and the Flying Fleet held a 15-12 lead before King started to comeback. Underwood pulled King within one with a kill, and three straight Flying Fleet attack errors gave King a 17-15 lead that forced an Erskine timeout.
It looked as though King would cruise to victory late in the frame as they held a 23-16 lead. However, Erskine answered with a 7-0 run to even the score at 23 apiece. However, Underwood thwarted Erskine's momentum with a thunderous kill, giving the advantage back to King. The teams then traded points, and Underwood ended the match in a fitting way, with King's 17th ace of the match as King took the final set 26-24.
Kremer led the Tornado with 10 kills to go along with 10 digs for the double-double. Maribeth Kern led King with 15 digs while Olivia Underwood accounted for 11 digs and 27 assists for the double-double. Fields was the final Tornado in double figures with 10 digs. Tipton served up a team-high six aces.
King will be in action again this weekend as they travel take on Limestone College on Friday and Converse College on Saturday. First serve on Friday from Gaffney, S.C. is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.