by Benny Benton
AIKEN, S.C. – Barton College dropped a tough five-set decision to Lander University and then fell in straight sets to host USC Aiken Friday on day one of the USC Aiken Invitational.
BC lost the opener to Lander (5-1) despite getting 27 kills from freshman Kaytlin Elkins, the most in a single game by a Lady Bulldog since 2015, and 39 digs from redshirt junior Riley Bane, the most in a match in at least seven seasons.
Junior Angelica Acevedo contributed 48 assists and 19 digs in the loss to the Bearcats, and added 20 assists and 19 digs in the setback to USC Aiken (4-2), the 2016 Southeast Region champions.
Lander 3, Barton 2 (21-25, 25-13, 25-21, 23-25, 15-7)
Barton took the opening set behind five kills each from Elkins and senior Miranda Miller, but Lander responded by taking each of the next two frames. Hannah Hritz collected four of her team-high 16 kills for the Bearcats in the second frame, a frame in which Lander hit .414 as a team.
The Lady Bulldogs gave away a six-point cushion in set four, watching a 21-15 lead turn into a 22-all tie. After the two teams traded points to make it 23-all, Elkins delivered consecutive kills to seal the set for BC and force the fifth-set tiebreaker.
Barton never gave itself a chance in the fifth, however, falling behind 4-0 and never getting within three points of the Bearcats. Lander hit .500 in the frame, with Hritz producing four kills. BC managed just three kills in the frame.
USC Aiken 3, Barton 0 (25-11, 25-14, 25-16)
In a rematch of last year's NCAA Southeast Regional Tournament opener, the host Pacers cruised past Barton behind 10 kills from Julia Forster.
USC Aiken did not have an attack error in the first set while delivering 13 kills for a gaudy .520 hitting percentage.
By contrast, Barton hit .007 for the match, collecting 27 kills and 26 errors. Elkins led the way once more with eight kills, while junior Allie Cullens and sophomore Kelsey Riquelme added five kills each.
Bane produced 24 more digs in the loss.
Barton will return to the court Saturday for two more matches in the event. The Lady Bulldogs will face Fayetteville State University at noon, and will square off against Augusta University at 2 p.m.