NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In this year's edition of the Battle of the Boulevard, an early lead for Belmont Volleyball would not be enough to seal the victory on Tuesday evening. The Bruins (1-7) were held off by Lipscomb (2-4), 3-1, in the Curb Event Center.
Belmont jumped out to a hot start in the opening stanza, taking a 10-4 lead that forced the Bisons to call for an early timeout. The Bruins extended their run to 7-0 before Lipscomb was able to notch a point. BU would not let up and by the midpoint of the set was ahead by 10 points, 17-7, after kills by juniors MacKenzie Harless (Brownsburg, Ind.) and Halee Van Poppel (Argyle, Texas). A stunned LU bench called for a break in the action in an attempt to regroup. BU continued to push and would cross the 20-point threshold before Lipscomb reached double digits. Finally, the Bisons were able to make a move late and use a 6-2 run to trim the score to 22-16. Belmont burned both of its timeouts during the flurry, looking to settle down and secure the final points for the set victory. Lipscomb continued to chip away at the Bruin lead down the stretch but it would be too little too late as BU held on for the 25-21 win.
LU looked to avenge its slow start from the whistle in set two, pulling ahead with the help of a 6-1 run. Belmont called its first timeout, trailing 8-2. After the brief break, the Bruins put together a 4-0 run to inch within two points, 8-6. However, the Bisons surged again behind another run and went up, 14-7. BU went on to call for its final timeout of the frame. The Bruins began clawing away at the point differential and moved as close as eight points before Lipscomb held on for the 25-15 win.
The already brewing back and forth battle marked the first points of the third set before Belmont settled in and took the lead, 11-5, thanks to kills by Van Poppel, Harless and freshman Lauren Walsh (Torrance, Calif.). After calling for a timeout, the Bisons came out hot and used a scoring run to make it a two-point frame, 12-11. Belmont was forced to call for a timeout but quickly rallied to knot the score, 14-14. Lipscomb attempted to pull away again but the Bruins continued their slow and steady rally and pushed to knot the score, 20-20. After calling for a strategy session, BU forced four scoring stalemates before the Bisons called for a timeout. However, Belmont was unable to keep the momentum up in the waning points and fell, 26-24.
The fourth set saw began with the long-time foes trading points, with neither able to create a distance of more than two points at a time. Finally, the Bisons used a flurry of kills to take a 15-11 lead and BU responded with its second timeout of the frame. Belmont succeed in trimming the lead down and staying within striking distance through the midpoint of the set before the Bisons pulled away again by as many as six points, 19-13. The Bruins surged once again and pushed back LU, who stood at the door of set point. After rolling off four consecutive points, BU was only trailing 24-20. Lipscomb called for a timeout to regroup and was able to put the set away after the brief break, 25-20.
For the match, Walsh led the Bruins with 11 kills. Junior Akia Warrior (Fort Worth, Texas) finished with 36 assists while sophomore Peyton Kelley (Normal, Ill.) posted a career-best 24 digs. Freshman Kailee Bass (Aurora, Ill.) recorded a match-high three block assists.
Belmont returns to action this weekend with a road trip to the Sunshine State. The Bruins will play in the River City Rumble, co-hosted by former Atlantic Sun foes North Florida and Jacksonville. Live stats will be available for the entire tournament. Fans may also follow the team's Twitter account (@BelmontVB) for live, in-game updates.