NASHVILLE, Tenn. (November 18, 2011) – ETSU won two of the first three sets, but Belmont rallied by winning the next two to defeat the Bucs, 3-2 (27-25, 18-25, 23-25, 25-13, 15-8), Friday in the Atlantic Sun Championship semifinals inside Allen Arena.
Belmont advances to the Atlantic Sun Championship final where it will meet crosstown rival Lipscomb on Saturday. Lipscomb defeated Florida Gulf Coast in the other semifinal match. Meanwhile, ETSU closes out the season with a 15-16 overall record.
Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) led three ETSU players with double-digit kills as she recorded 18 scores on the night, while also adding 12 digs for her sixth straight double-double. Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) added 12 kills and four blocks, while McKayla Barber (Columbus, Ind.) finished with 11 kills. Meanwhile, Kayla Williams (El Paso, Texas) dished out 50 assists to go with 15 digs. Kiley Tamblyn (Torrance, Calif.) led the Buccaneer defense with 21 digs.
Allison McCoy led the Belmont attack with a match-high 20 kills, while Atlantic Sun Co-Player of the Year, Maggie Johnson had 18 kills and 13 digs. Jen Myer and Scarlett Gable each had double figure kills as well for the Bruins. Hannah Miranda added a double-double as she dished out 59 assists to go with 13 digs.
Belmont out-hit ETSU .254 to .203, while gaining a 72-59 advantage in kills. Belmont recorded 23 kills in the last two sets compared to just 12 for the Bucs.
In the opening set, both teams played even until Belmont broke a 15-15 tie to win the next three points to take an 18-15 advantage, forcing an ETSU timeout. Following the timeout, ETSU won eight out of the next 12 points to take a 23-22. The run was capped off by a Devine kill, which forced a Belmont timeout. The Bruins responded after the timeout by winning the next two points and the Bucs called their final timeout. After a Devine kill tied the match, an ETSU ball handling error gave Belmont set point once again. The Bruins converted this time as an Allison McCoy kill clinched the set, 27-25. Both teams were somewhat even in the hitting category as Belmont had a slight .295 to .289 advantage in the set. Devine led the Bucs with six kills in the set.
Belmont jumped out to a quick 8-5 lead in the second set, but ETSU quickly closed the gap by winning the next four points to eventually take a 9-8 lead. After Belmont tied the score at 12 apiece, ETSU went on a 4-0 run to take a 16-12 advantage, forcing a Bruins timeout. The Bucs got two straight blocks to cap off the run. After the break, Belmont cut the lead to two on two different occasions, but ETSU went on another 4-0 run to extend the lead to 21-15. After the timeout, Belmont could not cut into the lead as the Bucs went on to take the set, 25-18. Devine and Hardy each had four kills in the set to lead the Bucs. ETSU hit an impressive .361, while limiting Belmont to just .125 hitting in the set.
In the third set, Belmont jumped out to an early 4-2 advantage, but ETSU quickly erased the deficit. ETSU reeled off the next five points to take an 8-4 lead. ETSU maintained the lead until Belmont cut the lead to two at 23-21, forcing ETSU to take a timeout. Hardy delivered a kill for the Bucs to bring up set point at 24-21, but Belmont won the next two points to cut the lead to one at 24-23. After an ETSU timeout, Devine delivered a set clinching kill for the Bucs.
Belmont jumped out to an early 9-4 advantage in the fourth set, which forced a quick ETSU timeout. The Bruins would not let their foot off the gas as they extended the lead to 14-5 and ETSU called its final timeout of the set. The deficit was just too much to overcome for the Bucs as Belmont went on to take the set, 25-13.
ETSU jumped out to an early lead in the decisive fifth set, but Belmont went on a 4-0 run after trailing 5-3, putting the Bruins in front 7-5. Following an ETSU timeout, a Belmont kill extended the run to five straight. The Bruins extended their lead to 13-7 after the two teams switched sides, while ETSU burned its final timeout. After ETSU won the next point, Belmont followed with two straight to close out the set and match.
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