BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - The Union volleyball nearly pulled off an amazing comeback, but the Lady Bulldogs came up just short at visiting Virginia Intermont pulled out the 3-2 Appalachian Athletic Conference victory on Tuesday.
The Lady Cobras won 26-24, 25-22, 23-25, 18-25, 15-10.
With the loss, Union falls to 13-16 overall and 9-5 in conference play. Virginia Intermont improves to 19-7 overall and 11-13 in the AAC.
Three Lady Bulldogs notched double-digit kills with Caity Merritt leading the way with a season-high 19 kills. Christa Hicks and Paige Moore helped out with 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Merritt and Moore each had three total blocks, while Hicks led the way with four.
Union looked as if it would take the opening set, owning a 24-23 lead with the serve. However, Viriginia Intermont reeled off three straight points to win the set 26-24 for a 1-0 match lead.
The second set was similar to the first as Union held a 21-17 advantage. Virginia Intermont, though, scored eight of the next nine points for the 25-22 decision and the 2-0 match lead. Ashleigh Manke had two kills during the Lady Cobras' final 4-0 run.
It was a see-saw battle in the third set as neither team seemed to take control. Up 17-16, Union steadily built the margin to 24-21. The Lady Cobras made things interesting with Kierstan Arnold and Brandi Blessing recording kills to make it a one-point game. The Lady Bulldogs stopped the Lady Cobras' surge by taking the final point for the 25-23 win, making the match 2-1.
Tied at 9-9 in the fourth set, Union used a 6-1 run to open up a 15-10 cushion. Moore delivered three kills during the rally. The Lady Bulldogs managed a comfortable margin the rest of the frame en route to the 25-18 decision, evening the match at 2-2.
Virginia Intermont jumped out to the early advantage in the fifth set, leading 7-3 and then 12-8 later on. After two Lady Cobra attack errors allowed Union to pull within 12-10, Manke ended the match with three consecutive kills to give Virginia Intermont the 15-10 set win and 3-2 match victory.
Manke and Blessing led Virginia Intermont with 21 kills apiece with Blessing also delivering 20 digs. Rachael Bell added nine kills and five total blocks, and Ashley Hooven served up 51 assists.
For Union, Gabrielle Kelly had 21 digs with Brooke Porter following with 14. Heather Fields and Chandler Gray registered 26 and 25 assists, respectively. Hollie Hopkins helped out with seven kills and three total blocks.
Union returns to action Thursday at 6:30 p.m. when it plays host to Milligan (Tenn.) in conference play.