BRISTOL, Tenn. --- Freshman Avalon Liscio (Naples, Fla.) posted 31 kills and fellow rookie Haylee Leonard (Walburg, N.C.) to pace the Lees-McRae College women's volleyball team to a split on the first day of the King University Invitational, as the Bobcats edged the University of Virginia at Wise, 3-2, before Concord University rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the nightcap.
Lees-McRae (1-5) won the opening match against UVA Wise (0-3) by scores of 24-26, 25-20, 19-25, 25-22, and 15-11, before Concord (2-2) rallied for a five-set victory over the Bobcats by scores of 22-25, 21-25, 25-10, 25-13, and 15-5 in the second match.
The Bobcats posted 123 digs, 22 blocks, and 17 service aces on the day, including 10 aces in the first match against Wise. Liscio led the way for the Bobcats with 31 kills and 23 digs, while Angela Morse (Clinton Township, Mich.) added 18 smashes and 10 blocks.
Haydn Beatty (Norman, Okla.) hit .364 on the day, posting 11 kills, 34 assists and 10 blocks, as Leonard chipped in nine blocks and 20 kills. Candace Niemiec (Huntington Beach, Calif.) tallied 22 digs on the day.
Match One: Lees-McRae 3, UVA Wise 2 (Box Score)
Liscio paced the Bobcats with a match-high 20 kills in the contest, adding 15 digs to post a double-double, as Beatty and Morse chipped in eight and seven smashes, respectively. Beatty nearly recorded a triple-double with 16 assists and 10 digs, attacking at a .538 clip in the match, while Niemiec added 17 assists and 15 digs of her own. Leonard tallied nine digs and a match-high seven block assists.
Karley Allen led the way for Wise with 15 kills, as Lindsey Tucker and Jessica Henry added 10 and nine smashes, respectively. Brittni Altmann posted a match-high 20 digs, while Veronica Sanchez tallied 43 assists. Allen chipped in 16 digs for a double-double.
Wise jumped out to an early 13-7 lead in the first set before the Bobcats responded, launching a 9-4 run to close the gap to 17-16 following a Cavalier miscue. Lees-McRae continued to battle, claiming narrow advantages of 23-22 and 24-23 on kills by Liscio and Beatty before Wise answered with a 3-0 spurt, taking the set, 26-24, with a Tucker ace.
The Cavaliers carried the momentum into the second frame before the Bobcats countered with a 13-2 surge, claiming a 14-8 lead following a pair of blocks and an emphatic kill from Leonard. Wise battled back with an 11-4 run, taking a narrow 19-18 advantage on an Allen smash. Lees-McRae quickly answered with seven of the next eight points, evening the match at 1-1 following a block by Beatty and Leonard.
The Bobcats continued to dictate play early in the third, taking an early 9-5 lead before Wise countered with a 10-6 run, knotting the tally at 15-15 following a Bobcat miscue. The Cavaliers kept pressing the attack over the next few minutes, claiming a 21-19 advantage on a Tucker smash before taking the set on the heels of a 7-0 run.
Lees-McRae answered in the fourth, taking an 11-5 lead on a smash by Liscio before pushing the advantage to 19-11 following back-to-back kills from Beatty and Liscio. Wise battled back with a 10-4 run, closing the gap to 23-21 on a Bobcat miscue, only to see the rally fall short as Morse forced a fifth set with an emphatic smash.
The Bobcats never trailed in the fifth, opening an early 8-4 lead on a Liscio kill before stretching the advantage to 12-7 with a smash by Jordan Banta (Virginia Beach, Va.). Lees-McRae would close out the set from there, giving head coach Dave Schmidlin his first win with the Bobcats on a Wise miscue.
Match Two: Concord 3, Lees-McRae 2 (Box Score)
Morse and Liscio led the way for the Bobcats with 11 kills each, as six players recorded at least seven digs for Lees-McRae in the match. Beatty turned in a double-double with 18 assists and 10 digs, as Banta posted a team-high 12 savers.
Sarah Jones and Brytni Willis paced the Mountain Lions with 13 and 12 kills, respectively, as Willis added a match-high 15 digs to post a double-double. Jasmin Sutherland added eight kills and a .538 hitting percentage.
Lees-McRae battled its way to an early 9-6 lead in the first set before Concord responded, evening the tally at 9-9 on a Jones ace. The Bobcats would answer with a 9-3 run, claiming an 18-12 advantage on a Niemiec kill. Concord countered once again with a 6-2 spurt, closing the gap to 20-18 before the Bobcats answered, taking a 1-0 lead in the match following a Liscio kill and a Mountain Lion miscue.
The Bobcats carried the momentum into the second set, claiming an early 16-9 advantage before pushing the margin to 20-12 on back-to-back Mountain Lion miscues. Concord would counter with an 8-2 run, cutting the lead to 22-20 following back-to-back aces from Jones. Lees-McRae quickly responded with a 3-1 spurt, taking a commanding 2-0 advantage in the match with smashes by Morse and Banta to cap the set.
Concord responded in the third, surging to an 11-1 lead before pushing the advantage to 21-4 with a tandem block by Jones and Willis on the heels of a 10-1 surge. The Mountain Lions would hold on from there, taking the set by a 25-10 margin to force a fourth frame.
The Lions' strong play carried over into the fourth, translating into a 17-9 lead before the Bobcats answered with three straight points, closing the gap to 17-12 with a Banta smash. Concord would counter with an 8-3 run, capping the set and sending the match to a deciding fifth frame with a kill by Rebecca Lovejoy.
The Mountain Lions carried the momentum into the fifth, taking an early 6-3 lead before stretching the advantage to 11-4 with a solo stuff by Jones to cap a 5-1 spurt. Concord would close out the win from there, claiming the set and the match on a tandem block by Lovejoy and Sutherland.
Lees-McRae returns to the court on Saturday when the Bobcats square off against Trevecca Nazarene University at 10 a.m. and Carson-Newman College at 2:30 p.m. on the second and final day of the King University Invitational.
- LMC -