BELMONT, N.C. - The Emmanuel College women's volleyball team took on King University in the Conference Carolinas Championship on Sunday afternoon. After falling in the first two sets, the Lions would fight back to win the final three sets and capture the 2019 Conference Carolinas Women's Volleyball Championship.
The King Tornado got off to a quick start with a kill from Julie Ward followed up with a block. The Lions would respond with a kill from Senior Jessica Gray. The Tornado continued to find success at the net with 8 more kills, allowing them to build an 8 point lead. Despite the deficit, the Lions continued to pick away with kills coming from Sophomores Taylor Roberts and Mia Cotton to get back within 5 Points. Unfortunately for the Lions, their push came too late as King cruised to a 25-19 first set victory.
The Lions would open up the second set with kills from Jessica Gray and Mia Cotton to get off to a 5-2 lead. A few EC errors combined with a block from the Tornado would help King pull ahead 7-5. The Tornado would continue to extend their lead all the way to 15-8. The Lions would gain some momentum after a timeout to put down 4 straight points and cut the King lead in half. Another strong run for the Tornado would keep them ahead as they finished off set number two 25-18.
With their back against the wall, the Lions came out swinging in the third set. Senior Mia McKensey and Sophomores Hallie Richardson and Taylor Roberts would combine for three kills to propel the Lions to an 8-3 lead. Several more blocks from King's Remi Thele, Brittney Ramsey, and Keri Ricker would put King right back in it with a tied score at 10-10. The teams would continue exchanging leads until later in the set. With a tied score of 20-20, Jessica Gray would put down back to back kills to pull the Lions ahead 22-20. Julie Ward for King would side-out with a big kill before a service error allowed EC to side-out again. The Lions would arrive at set point and keep their hopes alive with a final kill from Mia Cotton. Lions took set three 25-21.
King would grab a 3-0 lead to start the fourth set. EC would strike back with three unanswered points of their own. After a few more exchanges, Taylor Roberts would then put down a kill and a block before Senior Gabby Ghassedi served an ace. The Lions would rally to a 12-6 lead. King would continue to chip away at the EC lead before getting within one point at 19-18. Jessica Gray responded with a big kill to keep the Lions on top. An attack error would then extend the Lions lead to 21-18. Kings Julie Ward continued to swing away and helped the Tornado close in at 21-21. The Lions would side out again before Sophomore Kaitlyn Henderson delivered an ace. Sophomore Hallie Richardson would put down a crucial kill to setup the Lions with set point. A King attack error followed, giving the Lions set four, 25-22.
After a solid performance from both teams, the Conference Carolinas Championship came down to an instrumental fifth set. Mia Cotton and Taylor Roberts shut down Julie Ward on the first point with a big block. The Lions would extend their lead to 2-0 after a double from King. The Tornado would answer back in similar fashion thanks to a double from the Lions followed by a Tornado block to tie up the score. The teams continued to side-out and found themselves tied at 7-7. Jessica Gray would put down a kill to put the Lions ahead 8-7 as the teams switched sides for the final set. The Tornado would fight back with back to back points to steal the lead, 9-8. The Lions once again showed their grit with three unanswered points to take the lead 11-9 and force King to call a timeout. Upon returning to the court, the teams swapped two more points before another ace from Kaitlyn Henderson put the Lions ahead 13-10. An attack error from King would set up the Lions with Championship point, 14-10. The reigning champs would not disappoint as they secured the Conference Carolinas Championship once again with a final kill coming from Taylor Roberts.
With this win, the Lions improve their record to 20-12 overall and advance to the NCAA Division II Southeast Region Tournament.
For more news on Emmanuel College Athletics, visit goeclions.com.