Tigerville, S.C.—The NGU women’s volleyball team opened up the 2014 season on Friday night in the NGU Invitational. The Crusaders split their day one games with a 3-2 loss to Columbia College followed by a 3-1 win over St. Andrews.
The Crusaders opened the season against a competitive Columbia College team, and fell behind early in the first frame. The Koalas took an early 4-1 lead but NGU quickly bounced back to tie the score after two service aces from freshman Kenzie Pierce. Columbia held off a late North Greenville rally as the Crusaders trailed 21-15 but pulled to within 21-18. The Koalas would go on to take a 25-20 first set win.
North Greenville would pull even in the second set, but not without some drama as Columbia would rally back to gain 19-16 advantage after trailing early in the frame. The Crusaders would tie the game at 22-22 after a service ace from Hannah Lewis pulled them even. Columbia would then rattle off two straight points to take a 24-22 lead. The two point spree from Kolas however would spur the Crusaders as NGU pounded out four straight points for the win. The rally started with a Sommer Cagle kill to pull NGU to within one point. Ashlyn Wilkinson would then draw NGU even with a service ace before Pierce and Elizabeth James would break off two straight kills, evening the set score at 1-1.
The two squads would once again trade set wins in the third and fourth Columbia took the third set 25-15. NGU was equal to the task with a 25-14 fourth set win of its own, sending the game into a fifth game. Columbia jumped out to an early 4-1 lead early in the game, and led most of the way. The Crusaders would finally even the tally at 13-13 before earning its first lead of the extra frame with a kill from Kenzie Pierce. Columbia would answer with a kill from Richelle Prijic to equal the score at 14-14. The Koalas would go on to earn the 16-14 set five decision after two quick kills from Caitlin Brickley.
The Crusaders were led by Hannah Helbert on offense with 10 kills. Rachel Burts had eight points for NGU while Kenzie Pierce had six. Pierce also led the charge at the service line with three aces. Brook Stowell and Jenna Farrato were leaders on the defensive side with 14 and 13 digs, while Elizabeth James led NGU with 20 assists.
The Crusaders and St. Andrews were the Friday night's night cap, and the Crusaders started out strong. NGU took a quick 6-2 lead out of the gate, looking to rebound from the five set loss to Columbia earlier in the day. The Knights evened the tally at 6-6, and both teams battled closely as NGU maintained a slim margin. The Crusaders eventually opened up a 20-14 lead. The Crusaders would rally for five straight after the Knights pulled to within 20-15 to take the 25-15 set one win.
St. Andrews would go on to grab the quick upper hand in set two as the Knights raced out to a 5-4 advantage early in the frame. North Greenville responded scoring eight of the next 10 points to take a 12-7 advantage. The Crusaders would remain in control for the remainder of the set as they would cruise to a 25-15 win, as Yomi Adeyeye added final touches to give NGU a 2-0 set lead. Elizabeth James led the charge on offense for the Crusaders in the second set, pounding out four kills while Ashlyn Wilkinson added a service ace.
The Crusaders waisted little time grabbing an early advantage in game three, taking a 6-1 lead early. St. Andrews answered with two straight points to cut the lead in half before Rachel Burts added a seventh point for NGU as the Crusaders regained a four point advantage. The Crusaders would once again remain in total control of the match, taking a six point, 19-13 lead, forcing St. Andrews to call a timeout. The timeout seemed to get the Knights back on track, as they broke off two quick points to pull back within four of North Greenville.
NGU would then make it 20-15, but the stingy St. Andrews squad battled back however and tied the game at 20-20 with the aid of three consecutive NGU attack errors. St. Andrews would take a 21-20 lead out of a timeout, but NGU would fight back to take a 23-21 lead. The Knights would score three straight points again however, earning a 24-23 lead, just their second lead of the game. The Knights would go on to take a 26-24 win force a fourth set.
North Greenville would once again work itself into an early lead, taking a 12-5 advantage. The Crusaders would earn their biggest lead of the night thus far after an Adeyeye kill made the score 15-7. NGU gained full control late in the game, taking a 21-14 lead forcing the Knights to once again take a timeout to regroup. Consecutive aces by Hannah Lewis and an error by St. Andrews inched NGU closer to the win making the score 24-14. The Knights refused to go away however, scoring three straight to cut the lead to 24-17 before an attack error ended the rally at 25-17, giving NGU the 3-1 game win.
Rachel Burts and Yomi Adeyeye were both stellar for the Crusaders in game two of the day, both pounding out 13 kills for NGU. Also even were Ashlyn Wilkinson and Elizabeth James who finished with 21 assists a piece during the Friday night’s final. Wilkinson also had four service aces as did Hannah Lewis who led the team with 13 digs.
The Crusaders will wrap of their first weekend of play tomorrow afternoon and evening with games at two and six o’clock against Coker and Clark Atlanta. Tickets for tomorrow are five dollars and concessions will be available in the gym lobby.