by Benny Benton
WILSON, N.C. – Barton College's only graduating player, Jordan Lee, collected 10 kills and three blocks on Senior Night, but it was not enough to help the Lady Bulldogs avoid a five-set loss to rival Mount Olive College, 21-25, 25-21, 25-15, 22-25, 15-11, in Conference Carolinas women's volleyball play Friday night at Wilson Gym.
Barton (13-11, 9-6) rallied from a 2-1 set deficit to force a tiebreaker, but the Trojans led throughout the decisive final frame en route to a hard-fought victory. With the win, Mount Olive (12-13, 9-6) completed a season sweep of Barton and moved into a third-place tie in the league standings with the Lady Bulldogs.
Seniors Carly White and Lauren Lee paced Mount Olive with 19 kills each. Lee also had 11 digs and three aces, while White added five blocks. Freshman Kaitlyn Micol had 14 kills, 12 digs and three aces for Barton, while junior Melissa Cochran added 13 kills and a match-high eight blocks.
Mount Olive hit .226 in the match while limiting Barton to a .116 attack percentage. The Lady Bulldogs hit .107 in their other loss to the Trojans, their lowest hitting average in conference play this year.
In the final set, kills by Lauren Lee and White, followed by a solo block from White, gave the Trojans a quick 3-0 advantage. A Cochran kill and a Mount Olive ball-handling error helped the Lady Bulldogs pull within a point, but a kill by the Trojans' Lee, a Barton attack error and an Elyse Keating service ace moved Mount Olive up by four, 6-2.
Barton would move within striking distance after Mount Olive was penalized two points for being out of rotation, and the Lady Bulldogs trailed by a single point as late as 10-9. However, Lauren Lee delivered a big kill for Mount Olive, and a bad set by Barton put the Trojans back up by three, 12-9. Barton would get no closer than two points the rest of the set, which ended on a Nicole Sparks service ace.
The Lady Bulldogs had forced a fifth set with their best frame of the match in the fourth. Tied at 3-all, Micol produced four straight kills to get Barton rolling on a 9-2 run that put the Lady Bulldogs up 12-5. Mount Olive would climb all the way back, tying the match at 15-all on a solo block by White. However, with Barton leading 20-18, Micol connected on two more kills, and Jordan Lee added a pair of winning spikes down the stretch. Micol had seven kills in the set and Cochran added five, including the final point
Barton took set one with four kills from Micol and three each from Cochran and Jillian Sherman. The Lady Bulldogs blew an early five-point lead in the frame, but a kill by Cochran at 16-all and consecutive aces by Amanda Grandy helped Barton open up a three-point lead again. Mount Olive closed four times to within a point, the final time at 22-21, but a kill by Sherman, a block by Cochran and Sherman, and an ace by Corinna Morton finished off the set.
The Lady Bulldogs hit .276 in the first frame, but slipped to .031 in the second. Jordan Lee had six of her kills in the second set to keep Barton in it, but White matched that total for Mount Olive, and Lauren Lee added four. Despite its hitting woes, Barton led by two, 20-18, on a Jordan Lee kill, but the Trojans finished the set on a 7-1 run, led by two kills and a block from Lauren Lee.
Mount Olive hit .280 in the third set while Barton went negative, producing just five total kills with seven errors (-.182). There were four ties in the early part of the set, the last one at 7-all, before the Trojans went on a 6-0 run to pull away comfortably. Sarah Robertson had four kills in the set for Mount Olive, with White and Lee adding three each.
In the match, Elyse Keating had 50 assists, while Barton's Amber Kelly collected 37. Charnel Austin led four players in double-figures in digs with 14, a total matched by Barton's Corinna Morton. In addition to White's five blocks, Mount Olive also received five from Sarah Watkins. Kelly and Brittany Edwards each had five blocks for Barton in addition to Cochran's eight.
Barton begins a three-game road trip on Wednesday, Nov. 6, when it will visit conference co-leader Belmont Abbey College.