Lees-McRae drops pair of matches on day two of Carolinas Challenge

BANNER ELK, N.C. --- The Lees-McRae College women's volleyball team suffered a pair of heartbreaking losses on the second day of the Carolinas Challenge, falling to Palm Beach Atlantic University and No. 22 Flagler College in straight sets in Williams Gymnasium on Saturday.

Game One: Palm Beach Atlantic 3, Lees-McRae 0 (25-14, 25-21, 25-10) - Box Score

The first set began with neither team leading by more than two points until Palm Beach Atlantic (3-0) launched an 11-1 run to take a 22-11 lead, and closed out the frame on a kill by Janeen McCormick (Wellington, Fla.) as the two squads split the final six points of the game.

Lees-McRae (0-4) jumped out to an early 6-3 lead in the second set on a pair of kills by Whitney Justice (Connelly Springs, N.C.) and Megan Mitchell (Minden, Nev.), before Palm Beach Atlantic rallied to take a 13-9 advantage. After the Sailfish stretched the lead to 19-13 on back-to-back kills by Mariela Quesada (San Jose, Costa Rica), the Lady Bobcats stormed back to cut the margin to 22-20 on a Justice service ace on the heels of a 7-1 run.

Palm Beach Atlantic responded, scoring three of the final four points in the set to tally a 25-21 victory in the frame, and stretch its lead to 2-0 in the match. The Sailfish set the tone early in the third set, opening an early 8-1 lead en route to a 25-10 victory in the final frame.

Quesada paced the Sailfish with a match-high 20 kills on 28 attempts, recording a .679 hitting percentage to lead PBA. Jennifer Eldridge (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) chipped in five kills and eight digs, as Allie Warren (Stuart, Fla.) and Lanae Robinson (Cave Creek, Ariz.) tallied 10 and nine digs, respectively. Jessica Way (Lincoln, Neb.) also posted a match-high 23 assists for the Sailfish.

Lees-McRae was paced by seven kills from Justice, as Megan Epperson (St. John, Ind.) and Mitchell tallied five and four kills, respectively. Mitchell also paced the Lady Bobcats with 16 assists as Chloe Casas (Plano, Texas) tallied a team-high seven digs.

Game Two: Flagler 3, Lees-McRae 0 (25-13, 25-21, 28-26) - Box Score

Flagler (4-0) got off to a hot start in the first set, opening an early 9-6 lead ahead of a 12-4 run that stretched the advantage to 21-10. The Saints then closed out the frame with a 4-3 spurt to take an early 1-0 lead in the match with a 25-13.

The second set started in much the same way as the first, with Flagler opening an early 8-4 lead, but Lees-McRae responded with a tremendous 10-3 run to open a 14-11 advantage. Flagler would battle back, evening the score at 15-15 with a 4-1 spurt as part of a 14-7 run to close out the 25-21 second-set win to claim a 2-0 advantage in the match.

Lees-McRae fought hard in the third set, never allowing Flagler to open a lead of more than four points before the Lady Bobcats could close the gap. After the Saints opened a pair of early three-point leads, Lees-McRae rallied to take a 16-14 advantage on the heels of an 8-3 run that included three kills by Epperson.

The Lady Bobcats would close to within three points of extending the match, pushing the Saints to a pair of set points while holding as much as a four-point advantage. Flagler would continue to battle back, finally evening the score at 26-26 to start a 3-0 run to close out the match.

Meg Weathersby (Maitland, Fla.) and Crystal Niederriter (Merritt Island, Fla.) paced the Saints with 12 and 10 kills, respectively, while Rebecca Royal (Green Cover Springs, Fla.) and Olivia Snipes (Easley, S.C.) chipped in assist totals of 19 and 15. Casey Gnann (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Dianna Crane (Oshawa, Ontario) also tallied 16 and 13 digs, respectively, in the win.

Epperson and Justice paced the Lady Bobcats with 12 and nine kills, respectively, as Mitchell chipped in a match-high 26 assists. Taylor Clendenin (Statesville, N.C.) led Lees-McRae with 12 digs while Justice narrowly missed a double-double with 10 digs of her own.

Lees-McRae returns to the court on Monday when the Lady Bobcats travel to Spartanburg, S.C. for a 5 p.m. matchup with Converse College to open Conference Carolinas play.

- LMC -