BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - The Union volleyball team sent its seniors off on a positive note as the Lady Bulldogs recorded a 3-2 Appalachian Athletic Conference win over visiting Columbia (S.C.) on Wednesday.
Playing their final home match of the year, Union pulled out a 21-25, 25-20, 25-23, 17-25, 15-11 victory.
The win improves Union to 15-16 overall and 11-5 in the AAC, while Columbia falls to 18-10 overall and 10-8 in conference play.
While it was the seniors' night to celebrate, it was a sophomore who shined bright for the Lady Bulldogs. Paige Moore hammered home a career-high 20 kills and served up a team-high three service aces. Senior Cat Neumann followed with 14 kills, while junior Caity Merritt delivered 12 kills and two total blocks.
Union led much of the way in the opening set, owning a 15-9 edge at one point. However, Columbia used a 9-3 surge to even the frame at 18-18. After Union took a brief one-point lead, Columbia scored six of the final eight points for the 25-21 set win.
Play was tight in the second set as well. Tied at 19-all, the Lady Bulldogs ended the frame with a 6-1 run for the 25-20 decision, evening the match at 1-1. Moore had three kills during the decisive rally.
Union appeared to be on its way to an easy set win in the third frame as it built a 20-14 advantage. However, the Koalas stormed back with six-straight points to tie things up at 20-20. The teams traded the next points before Union broke the 23-23 tie with a Moore kill. Senior Christa Hicks then scored the set winner with an ace, giving Union the 25-23 victory and 2-1 match lead.
Columbia dominated the fourth set, leading by as much as nine points en route to the 25-17 win, locking up the match at 2-2. Caitlin Brickley had five kills for the Koalas in the set with Taylor Sellers adding four. The duo ended the match with 15 apiece.
In the fifth set, it was a see-saw battle as the teams traded points early on. Down 7-6, Union reeled off three points in a row - the last two on kills by Moore, for a 9-7 lead. The Lady Bulldogs slowly extended its lead to 13-10 when the Koalas made it a two-point set. Back to back attack errors by Columbia gave Union the final two points it needed for the 15-11 set win and 3-2 match victory.
Hicks finished with seven kills, an ace and a block, while senior Hollie Hopkins had five assists, four kills and two total blocks. Senior Gabrielle Kelly had 24 digs with senior Brooke Porter following 14. The 14 digs put Porter over the 1,200-dig mark for her career as she now has 1,204.
Heather Fields and Chandler Gray recorded 23 and 18 assists, respectively.
For Columbia, Aarika Munro had 10 kills, while Jacqui Anderson had 47 assists and 12 digs.
Union will close out the regular season on the road, playing at Point (Ga.) on Friday at 8 p.m. and at Reinhardt (Ga.) on Saturday at 1 p.m.