KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Union's quest for its third Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament crown in a row hit a bump in the road Thursday as the top-seeded Lady Bulldogs lost the winners' bracket finale 3-1 to Montreat (N.C.).
Union opened the day with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over No. 4 Columbia (S.C.). However, the loss to Montreat sends the Lady Bulldogs to the losers' bracket final to face Columbia once more at 10 a.m. Friday. The Union/Columbia winner then will face Montreat at 2 p.m. for the championship.
Against Columbia, Union looked to be on its way to a sweep as it took the the first two sets 25-19 and 25-14. But the Koalas battled back and evened things up by winning sets three and four 25-22 and 25-21.
The Lady Bulldogs settled down and regain control in the fifth set, jumping out to an 8-2 advantage en route the the 15-11 decision and the 3-2 match victory.
Lauren McMillan (Corbin, Ky.) and Cat Neumann (Louisville, Ky.) each had 11 kills, but the team was really led by the play of Chelsea Kirschman (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) and Amelia Cantrell (Georgetown, Ky.) in the middle. Kirshman had eight kills and six total blocks with Cantrell adding seven kills and a block.
Kalia Yasak (Kula, Hawaii) helped out with 41 assists, and Brooke Porter (Louisville, Ky.) notched 21 digs.
McMillan delivered a career-high 20 kills against Montreat, but it was not enough as Union fell 3-1.
The Lady Bulldogs battled hard but dropped the first set 25-22. Union was up 13-11 in the second set when Kirschman went down with an injury. Montreat then reeled off 10 consecutive points on its way to the 25-15 win.
Union bounced back to take the third set 25-22, but Montreat sealed the 3-1 match win with a 25-19 decision in the fourth frame.
After McMillan, Neumann and Caity Merritt (Abingdon, Va.) followed with nine kills apiece. Cantrell added four total blocks, including three solos. Yasak had 48 assists.