INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Big rallies in both matches fell shy of helping Belmont Volleyball pick up wins on the final day of the Bulldog Brawl. The Bruins (1-14) were held off 3-0 by host-Butler (3-8) before being edged in the nightcap by first-time opponent Pacific (8-4), 3-1.
The visitors took a second to settle in against its first-time opponent Butler but quickly got rolling. Belmont trimmed the point differential down to three, 8-5, before the Bulldogs surged and doubled their lead. BU battled back once again and again closed the gap to three, 16-13, behind kills by sophomore Taylor Floyd (Louisville, Ky.), junior Halee Van Poppel (Argyle, Texas) and freshman Kailee Bass (Aurora, Ill.). Belmont continued to push and soon inched to within one point behind a 3-0 run with points coming from sophomore Mary Catherine Ball (Hendersonville, N.C.) and Bass. A stunned Bulldog bench called for a huddle session. The home team emerged from the brief break looking put to space between the teams but Belmont refused to let up. Belmont burned one of its timeouts to strategize over the waning points. The Bulldogs rolled off three straight points to get to set point but the Bruins answered back with three of their own to close the gap to 24-21.
In the second frame, kills by Van Poppel helped keep the opening point differential incredibly slim. A service ace by junior Akia Warrior (Fort Worth, Texas) and a hard hit kill by Floyd was enough to Belmont its first lead of the contest, 8-7. Butler fired back with a 10-3 run to pull ahead and the Red & Blue called for a pair huddle session in the midst of the flurry to get back into the set. Down but not out, the Bruins dug deep to close the gap to just one point, 20-19, after kills coming from Ball and Warrior. The Bulldogs were forced to burn a timeout to regroup against the surging Bruins.
Set three saw the Bruins maintain the same energy and leaned on Van Poppel's early kills to keep Belmont within striking distance. Belmont used a 5-0 run, capped with a solo block by junior MacKenzie Harless (Brownsburg, Ind.) to take a 10-7 lead. The Bruins refused to let up and held onto its three-point lead and saw a kill by Floyd that put BU ahead, 14-11, be enough to make Butler burn a timeout. Bass collected a solo block to push Butler to call for a break in the action. The Bulldogs continued to their push and soon knotted the score at 21. This time, it would be Belmont that would call for a timeout after the home team finally regained the lead, 22-21. The Bulldogs did not look back and despite a kill by Floyd, were able to gobble up the last three points and take the stanza, 25-22.
For the match, Van Poppel recorded 13 kills, followed by Floyd's 11. Warrior posted 31 assists. Sophomore Faith Cobaugh (Union, Ky.) and Warrior tallied 12 and 11 digs, respectively. Harless and Bass each recorded a solo block. Harless and Warrior each posted two block assists.
Pacific opened the first meeting between the programs swinging hot. By the time Belmont called for its first huddle session, the Tigers had leapt ahead 10-5. After the break, Pacific maintained its press.
Set two saw the Bruins roll off three consecutive points to get started. A service ace by Van Poppel followed by a block by Floyd and Bass saw the Tigers call for a timeout after falling behind, 7-3. Pacific came out of the brief break and went on a 7-0 tear to regain the lead. BU hustled to knot the score at 11 before the Tigers added to their point tally. The teams remained separated by two points through the midpoint of the set until UOP used a 3-0 surge to take a 20-16 lead. Belmont called for a huddle session to regroup and came out hot using kills by Ball and Harless to remain within striking distance. However, the effort fell just shy as Pacific used another scoring rally to secure the 25-20 win.
The third stanza saw the teams trade points and fall into 13 scoring stalemates with neither team able to pull away more than two points before the score was tied once again. Pacific rolled off three points in a row to take a 19-16 lead and the Bruins quickly called for a timeout. BU came out of the break hot and used a kill by Floyd and a block assist by Harless and Ball to close the point differential to two points, 20-18. Belmont surged and forced a scoring stalemate at 21with a deep kill by Harless. The Bruins continued to press, knotting the score at 23 before using a block assist by Warrior and senior Huntir Bass (Mobile, Ala.) and a kill by Van Poppel to win the frame, 26-24.
The Tigers jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead forcing the Bruins to call for a huddle session at the start of the fourth set. After the break, the Tigers continued to build on their lead. UOP went on to expand its lead to double digits, taking an 18-8 lead late, thanks to a 6-0 run. All told, BU was only able to add two more points down the stretch as Pacific strung together another run as it went on to take the frame, 25-10.
For the contest, Van Poppel finished with a match-high 15 kills while Warrior notched a match-high 33 assists. Three Bruins posted double digits in digs, led by freshman Lauren Walsh (Torrance, Calif.), who tallied 16. Floyd and Van Poppel recorded 12 and 11 digs, respectively. Harless, Kailee Bass and Floyd each tallied three block assists.
Belmont returns to action Friday, September 27 opening Ohio Valley Conference play on the road with a stop at Morehead State. First serve is set for 5 p.m. CT. The match can be seen live on ESPN+ and live stats will be available. Fans may also follow the team's Twitter account (@BelmontVB) for live, in-game updates.