NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A strong start was not enough to keep Belmont Volleyball rolling on Tuesday night in the Curb Event Center. The Bruins (1-11) posted strong set scores but fell to visiting Western Kentucky (10-1), 3-0.
The teams opened the first set trading points with the Bruins finding quality early kills from junior MacKenzie Harless (Brownsburg, Ind.), freshman Kailee Bass (Aurora, Ill.) and sophomore Mary Catherine Ball (Hendersonville, N.C.). The Lady Toppers grew their lead to as many as four before the Bruins clawed back into the frame, 16-17, after kills by juniors Akia Warrior (Fort Worth, Texas) and Halee Van Poppel (Argyle, Texas). Western Kentucky used a 3-0 run to take a 21-17 lead and the Bruins called for their first huddle session. WKU inched up to set point but BU continued to fight down to the wire, closing to within three points after a pair of kills from Ball. However, the Lady Toppers were able to eke out the 25-22 win.
WKU posted a pair of quick points to start set two and the Bruins called timeout to settle down. After the brief break, the Lady Toppers continued to pick up speed as they approached the midpoint of the set. Belmont was able to cut the visitor's lead in half, 18-9, after a huge kill by sophomore Taylor Floyd (Louisville, Ky.). However, Western Kentucky kept surging and expanded its lead to 23-11 before kills by Harless and Van Poppel halted the visitor's scoring streak. It was just a scoring pause as the visitors went on to take the set, 25-11.
Set three saw Western Kentucky carry over the same momentum as the previous stanza, as the team jumped out to a fast 8-3 lead. The sudden flurry saw BU call for a timeout in hopes of slowing down the streaking Toppers. Belmont was able to close the scoring gap to single digits, 19-11, following kills by junior Mackenzie LePage (Franklin, Tenn.) and Van Poppel but WKU refused to let up. Belmont used a quick 3-0 run to inch to within 22-15 and pushed the Lady Toppers back on their heels. Up against the wall with match point in reach for Western Kentucky, BU attempted another late surge with kills coming from Floyd and Harless but the visitors were able to secure the final point and take the set, 25-18.
For the match, Van Poppel tallied a team-high 12 kills. Warrior finished with 24 assists and sophomore Peyton Kelley (Normal, Ill.) notched 11 digs.
Belmont returns to action this weekend with a trip to the Hoosier State. The Bruins will play in the Bulldog Brawl, hosted by Butler. BU opens the two-day tournament taking on Loyola Marymount on Friday afternoon. Live stats will be available. Fans may also follow the team's Twitter account (@BelmontVB) for live, in-game updates.