BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - The Union College volleyball team posted two hard fought Appalachian Athletic Conference victories on Saturday, upsetting Bryan (Tenn.) in five sets, 3-2, and besting Reinhardt (Ga.), 3-1 at Robsion Arena.
With the results, Union improved to 23-7 overall and 16-3 in the AAC.
"I am extremely proud of what our ladies did this weekend," said head coach Jeremy Wise. "They really gutted a few points out when they needed too, and stayed focused when trailing late in the Bryan match. [Bryan] is a very good team. It was a thrilling victory, especially after just beating Reinhardt.
"Hopefully, our team learned today what it will take to win the Conference Tournament coming up in a few weeks."
Union 3, Bryan 2 (25-22, 25-20, 24-26, 20-25,15-8)
In the Bryan match, the visiting Lady Lions came into the contest riding a 22-match winning streak and were undefeated on the year in the AAC at 18-0. The Lady Lions were also receiving votes in the NAIA Top 25 Coaches Poll.
Union, however, was not intimidated at all by the visitors at the start.
In the first set, Union jumped out to a 19-10 lead, then held off a late Bryan rally to take a 25-22 victory in the opening set. After falling behind 10-7 early in the second set, the Bulldogs came roaring back, going on a 13-4 run to take a 20-14 lead. From there in the set, Union pulled away, taking a 25-22 win and a 2-0 advantage in the match.
Bryan, however, would not go away quietly. First, they won a see-saw third set on a tie-break, 26-24, then pulled away late in the fourth set in a 25-20 victory, sending the match to a decisive fifth and final set.
In that set, the entire match changed with Union clinging to a 6-5 lead. There, junior Heather Fields rejected a Bryan attack, giving Union a 7-5 lead and the momentum of the match in the process.
From there, Union rolled, ending the contest on a 8-3 run. The Bulldogs clinched the upset victory on a Caity Merritt kill, as the Union student section stormed the floor to celebrate the huge conference win for Union.
Overall, Paige Moore led the Union attack against Bryan, recording 17 kills. Merritt ended the night with 15 kills, while Karina Ramos had 11. Fields notched 40 assists in the win, libero Ana Calaza paced the Union defense with 25 digs.
Union 3, Reinhardt 1 (25-23, 22-25, 27-25, 25-15)
Union kicked the day off with a tough win over Reinhardt, getting past the Eagles in a hard-fought four set match.
In the first set, the lead swung back and forth, with things coming to a head with Union in the lead 24-22. After a Reinhardt point, the match ended on a set error by the Lady Eagles, giving Union the 25-23 win.
After a 25-21 win by Reinhardt in the second set, Union captured the last two sets to take the victory. In the third set, things went to a tie-break knotted up at 25-all. There, Union won back-to-back points to take the set, as Merritt and Ramos ended the set with a block-assist at the net.
In the final set, Union rolled down the stretch, going on a 12-4 run to open up a previously close set (13-11). With that, the Bulldogs won the match, earning their first victory of the day.
Overall in the Reinhardt match, Moore led Union on the attack with 15 kills, while Ramos and Merritt had 12 kills, apiece. Fields had 41 assists, while Calaza notched 26 digs.
By the Numbers
- The Bulldogs won three AAC matches in just under 24 hours with the two victories this afternoon. Last night, Union rolled past Truett-McConnell, 3-0.
- Union's win over Bryan was their first over the Lady Lions since Sept. 20, 2011, a 3-0 victory at Robsion Arena.
- Union's victory over Reinhardt was their sixth straight in the series. Reinhardt's last win over the Bulldogs came during the 2010 season.
The Bulldogs host No. 9 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) in their 2013 home season finale on Monday. First serve is set for 6:30 p.m.