Bryan College volleyball pulled off a thrilling five-set victory over fellow Appalachian Athletic Conference opponent Truett McConnell University (Ga.) on Friday night, and the Lions kept their course as they routed AAC foe Brenau University (Ga.) Saturday morning to improve to 9-4 overall and 4-1 in conference play. The sweeping loss knocked the Golden Tiger’s overall record to 1-12 and AAC record to 1-4.
Freshman Gigi Ford led the attack for Bryan, crushing 16 kills to match her season-high, and averaged a .263 attack percentage.
The Memphis, Tenn. native also scooped up 14 digs, trailing team-leader Rheagan Kean’s 18, resulting in her sixth double-double on the year. Janie Smith had a notable performance, as she collected a season-high eight kills with a .333 attack percentage while chipping in a pair of solo blocks and a lone block assist. Others to help on the attack were Emalie Hicks with six kills and Paige Randolph with four kills. Bryan’s assist’s leader was Jennifer Keck who set up 17 assists. Jaleigh Rogan aided with 14 assists and seven digs, and Macenzie Krause notched eight digs in the outing. The Lions totaled nine aces compared to the Golden Tiger’s one. Krause, Rogan, and Ford posted two aces apiece, but leading the way was Hayli McLean with three.
Brenau was the first to receive an edge as the opening set unfolded, but Bryan gained their composure and took control with two significant runs that left the Golden Tigers hopeless. The first came when the Lions trailed 4-7 and rallied for six unanswered points. It began with a service error by the visitors, and Rebecca Camacho made Brenau pay on the next play with a blistering kill. Krause aced the Golden Tigers to even the count 7-7, and a kill from Ford in addition to two more mishaps by Brenau positioned the Lions ahead 10-7. The Golden Tigers broke the silence with a point, but it wouldn’t matter with the Lions having already gained momentum. Ford registered four kills in Bryan’s 9-0 run, creating an 11-point deficient at 19-8. The gap was too large for Brenau to close, as the Lions captured the first set 25-13.
Set two was much closer, with the largest lead for either team being six while 10 ties occurred. The Lions used an ace by Rogan and kills from Smith, Randolph, and Ford to lead 4-0. The Golden Tigers maneuvered their way back into the set, eventually tying things up midway through at 11-11. Six tied points ensued with Bryan creating some separation after 19-19 to lead 22-19. Unfortunately, Brenau rallied from behind and leveled the score at 23’s. It was even again at 24’s, but the frame ultimately came to a close off a service error by the Golden Tigers and an ace by Ford to seal the set 26-24 and go in front 2-0 in the match.
Brenau briefly saw a one-point lead early in the final frame, but Bryan got the advantage at 6-5 and never surrendered it back despite seven ties throughout a tight set. The furthest the Lions could pull away was four points, and the Golden Tigers applied pressure late when they managed to tie the score 18-18. A kill by Emily Peterson gave Bryan an edge at 19-18, and Brenau committed an attack error that led to the Golden Tigers taking a timeout to regroup. Even though the Golden Tigers kept it close, the Lions never budged and held on to win 25-22 and blank Brenau 3-0 for the conference sweep.
A lengthy stint of road games lies ahead for the Lions, as they finish out the rest of September away, beginning with a meeting at Union College (Ky.) in Barbourville, Ky. on Sept. 17 at 6:30pm. The Union Bulldogs are currently 5-10 overall and 3-0 in the conference.
To view the full 2019 volleyball schedule, click here.