by Benny Benton
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Barton College seniors Melissa Cochran and Amanda Grandy, who both surpassed career milestones on Friday night, added to their impressive totals in a 3-0 road victory over Converse College Saturday afternoon.
Cochran, who reached 1,000 career kills on Friday, added a match-high 14 kills to her total against the Valkyries (5-12, 0-5). Grandy, who crossed over 1,000 career digs against Limestone, recorded a match-high 21 on Saturday to help the Lady Bulldogs (6-10, 4-3) post the 25-22, 25-20, 25-18 victory.
Grandy also produced a season-high seven service aces against Converse, part of 11 aces recorded by the Lady Bulldogs. Freshman setter Riley Bane contributed 28 assists and nine digs, and sophomore Kaitlyn Micol chipped in nine kills.
Converse was paced by seven kills from Journee English. Aubrey Crosby collected 20 digs in a losing cause.
The Valkyries, which lost to Barton in five sets earlier this year in a non-conference tournament meeting, took advantage of five attack errors by the Lady Bulldogs to turn a 10-10 first-set tie into a 17-12 lead and force a BC timeout.
However, consecutive Grandy aces sandwiched between kills by Cochran and Catherine Barber made up most of a 5-0 run that helped Barton tie the match again at 17-all. Converse won the next two points, but a kill by Micol, a combo block by Cochran and Barber and an Alex Ward ace put Barton into the lead (21-20) for the first time since the score was 3-2.
Converse tied the match twice in the late stages, the final time at 22-all on an ace by Crosby. However, Cochran provided a kill and an ace to put the Lady Bulldogs on match point, and Shae Schmidt added a kill to finish off the set for Barton.
A 7-1 run assisted by four Barton miscues helped Converse take a 10-4 lead in set two, and the Valkyries still enjoyed a six-point cushion at 14-8 when the Royal Blue and White erupted with 11 straight points to take control of the frame. The surge included three aces by Grandy, a pair of blocks by Cochran and Micol, and kills by Cochran and Barber.
The Valkyries closed within three points on two occasions, the last one at 23-20 after a Barton ball-handling error, but Cochran answered with a kill and an ace to finish off the set win for BC.
With Bane on the service line to start set three, Barton rolled off the first six points and never trailed. Converse did close to within a point at 8-7 on a solo block by Samantha Haynes, but an attack error by the Valkyries gave BC a point and possession, and BC won the next two points as well on an ace by Ward and kill by Cochran.
After falling behind by five points at 15-10, Converse rallied to within two at 15-13 following a Barton attack error. But Micol collected consecutive kills, followed by a block assist along with Courtney Wiseman, to start an 8-1 run that effectively finished off the set. Cochran put the seal on the win with kills for the final two points.
Barton, which has struggled with its attack, hit .102 in the match. Converse, which has also had hitting problems, continued in that regard, managing an average of just .031, including a negative mark in the final frame.
The Lady Bulldogs won for the third time in their last four matches to stay within a half-game of first place in Conference Carolinas' North Division. Barton will continue a six-match road swing with a contest at University of Mount Olive on Wednesday.