NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Belmont Volleyball was unable to pull off a win in its final home contest of the 2019 season. The Bruins (2-26, 1-12 OVC) fell to crosstown rival Tennessee State (11-15, 4-9 OVC), 3-0, on Tuesday night in the Curb Event Center.
The visitors posted points quickly to start the first set but the Bruins kept pace with kills coming from juniors Mackenzie LePage (Franklin, Tenn.) and Halee Van Poppel (Argyle, Texas), and freshman Kailee Bass (Aurora, Ill.). Tennessee State continued to press and built a six point lead. Belmont trimmed the point differential down to five points, 16-11, and continued to whittle away at the visitor's lead. A kill from Van Poppel moved BU to within five, 19-14, but TSU used a 5-0 to help lift it to the 25-15 set win.
Tennessee State repeated the fast start early lead in the second stanza, pulling ahead 11-3, paced by a 6-0 run. Belmont was finally able to get its feet underneath itself offensively and used a 4-0 run, including kills coming from senior Huntir Bass (Mobile, Ala.) and freshman Lauren Walsh (Torrance, Calif.), to move to within striking distance, 16-14. The Tigers pulled away briefly again before the Bruins surged again late, this time with the help of a 3-0 run, fueled by more kills from Van Poppel, Walsh and LePage. The flurry moved BU to within one, 23-22, forcing Tennessee State to burn its final timeout of the set. Despite an additional kill from Huntir Bass, Belmont was unable to grab the set, being held off 25-23.
After a slow start at the top of the third frame, BU worked hard to knot the score, 7-7, behind critical Tiger attack errors and a pair of Van Poppel kills. Belmont only trailed by one point, 10-9, after a hard hit kill down the center of the court by newcomer MacKenzie Harless (Brownsburg, Ind.). However, by the midpoint of the set, Tennessee State had pulled away by as many as seven points, 19-12. BU was only able to trim three off that point differential down the stretch as the Tigers used a 4-0 run to snag the final points of the set en route to the 25-15 victory.
For the match, Van Poppel led the team with 11 kills. Sophomore Carly Mason (Forsyth, Ill.) finished with 20 assists. Classmate Peyton Kelley (Normal, Ill.) recorded 13 digs, followed by Van Poppel with 10. Sophomore Mary Catherine Ball (Hendersonville, N.C.) tallied a pair of block assists.
Belmont returns to action on Saturday with a stop at SIUE. Match time is set for 2 p.m. Live stats will be available. Fans may also follow the team's Twitter account (@BelmontVB) for live, in-game updates.