RICHMOND, Ky. -- Belmont Volleyball was unable to hold onto its early momentum on the road Saturday to wrap the opening weekend of OVC play. The Bruins (1-16, 0-2 OVC) fell on the road at Eastern Kentucky, 3-0.
The teams traded points to start the first set before the Colonels grabbed a two-point lead. BU called for a huddle session to settle back down into the frame and quickly made up the point differential, thanks to kills by junior Halee Van Poppel (Argyle, Texas) and EKU errors. Belmont remained hot on the trail of the home team, falling behind by as many as three points point through the midpoint of the set before tying the frame at 16. A pair of kills by sophomore Mary Catherine Ball (Hendersonville, N.C.) was enough to keep the Bruins in striking distance.
The Bruins rolled off three straight points, capped with a kill by junior MacKenzie Harless (Brownsburg, Ind.) to knot the score at 21, forcing the Colonels to burn a timeout. EKU came out of the brief break and notched back-to-back points to regain the lead. This time, it would be BU calling for a pause in the action to strategize over the waning points. The Colonels reached set point but the Bruins clawed back into the set with a block assist from freshman Kailee Bass (Aurora, Ill.) and sophomore Taylor Floyd (Louisville, Ky.), closing the gaps to one point, 24-23. A service ace by junior Akia Warrior (Fort Worth, Texas) knotted the score but Eastern Kentucky was able to pull out the 26-24 win in the end.
BU opened the second stanza quietly while EKU posted four straight points to open the frame. The Bruins slowly began to chip away at the lead after calling for a huddle session. Belmont used kills by Ball, Harless and a solo block by Bass to inch to within three points, 11-8. The Bruins continued to surge and used a one-woman wrecking crew in Harless to overtake the lead, 16-15, behind a pair of kills by her plus a block assist with Floyd. A hotly contested back-and-forth battle ensued with the Bruins going on to knot the score at 18, forcing the Colonels to burn a timeout in hopes of slowing down the visitor. However, EKU was able to use a 5-0 run to close the set and win 25-19.
Eastern Kentucky came out hot to open the third stanza but the Bruins were able to find their groove and close the gap to one point, 7-6, behind a kill by Van Poppel. The Colonels rebounded and used a 4-0 run to put some space between the teams. The Bruin offense had spurts and starts through the midpoint but was only able to close the gap to six points, 19-13. Eastern Kentucky used a 5-0 run to put the set out of reach for good down the stretch, despite late kills from Ball and Van Poppel. An untimely error sealed the deal and helped EKU take the frame, 25-15.
For the match, Harless led the Bruins with nine kills, followed by Ball with eight. Warrior and sophomore Carly Mason (Forsyth, Ill.) led the team in assists, tallying 14 and 11, respectively. Van Poppel posted 10 digs. Bass logged a solo block while Harless and Floyd each collected four block assists.
Belmont returns to action on Tuesday evening with a stop at crosstown rival Tennessee State. First serve is set for 6 p.m. Live stats will be available and the contest can be seen live on ESPN+. Fans may also follow the team's Twitter account (@BelmontVB) for live, in-game updates.