by Benny Benton
WILSON, N.C. – The Barton College women's volleyball team hopes to maintain its position among the top four in the league standings when it hosts Converse College in a Conference Carolinas battle Tuesday night in Wilson Gym. Match time is slated for 7 p.m.
Barton College Women's Volleyball
After splitting a pair of matches over Homecoming Weekend, the Lady Bulldogs moved to 12-10 overall and 8-5 in the conference. Barton remained in third place, but saw its advantage slip to a half-game over fourth-place Limestone College and a whole game over fifth-place Mount Olive College. The top four teams at the end of regular-season play will host a first-round conference tournament match.
The Lady Bulldogs fell last Friday to conference co-leader King in straight sets, but bounced back to defeat Lees-McRae by a 3-0 margin on Saturday.
Against King, Kaitlyn Micol led Barton with 11 kills and Corinna Morton had 10 digs. Melissa Cochran was limited to four kills, ending her streak of consecutive matches with double-figure kills at 14.
Cochran narrowly missed starting a new streak against Lees-McRae, producing a team-high nine kills and five blocks, while Micol added seven kills and four aces. Alex Ward collected eight digs, and Brittany Edwards contributed four blocks.
Having now played in enough games to qualify statistically, Edwards jumped into third place in the conference rankings in blocks with an average of 0.86 per set. Cochran leads the league in blocks per set at 1.03, and Jordan Lee ranks 10th at 0.69. Barton also leads the league as a team, averaging 1.91 blocks per set.
The Lady Bulldogs are second in the conference in service aces, producing 2.09 per set. Three players – Amanda Grandy (0.51, 2nd), Alex Ward (0.46, 3rd), and Amber Kelly (0.39, 7th) – all rank among the league's top 10 in aces. The only team that Barton trails in the category is King, which helped itself with eight aces against the Lady Bulldogs on Friday.
Cochran continues to pace Barton in kills per set with 3.23, third-best in the conference, while Micol is ninth at 2.57. Morton is fifth in the league in digs per set at 3.83, and Kelly is third in assists, averaging 7.62 per set.
Converse College Women's Volleyball
The Valkyries enter Tuesday's match with a record of 4-20 overall and 4-8 in league play. However, one of those four victories was a five-set thriller over Barton on Sept. 28 in Spartanburg, S.C.
The win ended a 53-match losing streak for Converse dating back to the 2011 season, and the Valkyries used the momentum from that victory to win three of their next four matches as well.
However, Converse has dropped its last six in a row coming into Tuesday's match, most recently a straight-set loss at Georgia Regents. Ashley Biggs had 12 kills and Aubrey Crosby collected nine digs in a losing cause.
Biggs came up very big in the Valkyries' earlier win against Barton, producing 21 kills, seven digs and four aces. Crosby had 13 digs, and a trio of players – Scottie Kay Auton, Katie Butler and Michaela Evers – added eight kills each in the victory.
Cochran had 19 kills and five blocks for Barton in the loss, with Micol adding 12 kills and Jordan Lee chipping in 10.
Biggs averages a team-high 2.01 kills per set for the Valkyries, while also contributing 0.35 aces per set. Butler contributes 1.93 kills per set and 0.45 aces per set, which ranks her fourth in the conference. Auton produces 1.84 kills per set while hitting at a .232 clip, 10th-best in the league. She also averages a team-high 0.71 blocks per set. Crosby leads the squad with 3.04 digs per set, and her 239 total digs ranks 10th in the conference.
The Valkyries are fighting for one of the final positions to earn a spot in the conference tournament. Converse and Pfeiffer University are tied for seventh and eighth, with North Greenville University a game and a half back in ninth.