WILSON, NC — The Barton College women's volleyball team is moving into a territory it has not been in awhile. The third-seeded Lady Bulldogs prevailed 3-1 over sixth-seeded Pfeiffer University in a brilliant defensive display (150 digs for the two teams) on Tuesday night in the quarterfinals of the Conference Carolinas Tournament in Wilson Gym.
Barton presented fifth-year head coach Patrick Morgan his first tournament victory and earned a shot at playing second-seeded Erskine in the semifinals Friday night at 6:30 in Due West, S.C. Erskine defeated Limestone 3-1 on Tuesday and top-seeded Lees-McRae and fourth-seeded Queens advanced with 3-0 victories.
The hard-fought, 25-22, 28-26, 22-25, 25-21 victory raised Barton's record to 16-14, while the Falcons exited at 12-16 overall. The two teams had split their regular-season matches and were part of a four-way tie for third place after the regular season with Queens and Belmont Abbey. All four schools went 11-7 in conference action.
Barton notched 77 team digs and had 16 blocks while Pfeiffer finished with 73 digs and 11 blocks. The play was spirited and intense, and both squads exhibited exceptional hustle throughout. Incredibly, the two teams were tied 54 times in the match. Diving digs, quick arm flicks to keep plays alive and stellar play at the net was the norm.
The Lady Bulldogs, who feature seven seniors, got outstanding performances from senior setter Carly Love (24 digs, 19 assists and six aces) and senior libero Cassie Blackmon (21 digs). Senior middle hitter Chancey Sebranek had six kills, four blocks and two aces; senior outside Mel Ritter finished with 12 kills, 13 digs; and senior outside hitter Meagan Parrott delivered some big blows with 10 kills, five digs, four blocks and one ace.
Senior outside hitter Kristina Mordini was the horse for Pfeiffer, knocking down 13 kills to go with a team-high 23 digs and four blocks. Junior setter Colleen Wands had 37 assists and eight digs; sophomore Cassie Byerly recorded 16 digs; and junior Kaci Markham logged 13 digs.
The first set went back and forth and was tied numerous times. With the score knotted at 22-22, Ritter pounded a kill, Pfeiffer had a service reception error and Ritter laced another kill for the 25-22 win.
With a crowd of more than 250 spurring the teams on, set two featured some quick reflexes on both sides. Pfeiffer had a 12-9 lead, but Barton rallied to a 16-14 cushion behind two kills from Ritter, one each from sophomore Kati Wood (9 kills) and Sebranek, and a solo block by Sebranek.
Barton was up 23-18 after a Parrott kill, but the Falcons stormed back, winning six of the next seven points. Barton made three errors and Anna Vizvary and Kim Amerell notched kills in the run. Ritter misfired on a couple of kill attempts, but rebounded to record two straight points for a 27-26 lead, then Sebranek finished off the 28-26 victory off a short set from Love.
The biggest lead in set three was 12-9 for Barton. Ritter had three kills to put the Lady Bulldogs up 20-19, but Pfeiffer forged ahead 22-21 on two BC errors and a kill by Abbie Ovbey. Mordini put an exclamation point on the 25-22 win with a pair of kills. Set four was tied 17 times, the final time at 20-20. Ritter and Sebranek combined on a block, Love had two aces and Parrott found the corner with a kill down the stretch to secure Barton's tournament semifinal berth with a 25-21 win.