by Benny Benton
WILSON, N.C. – The Barton College women's volleyball team got off to a strong start in defense of its 2016 league title Friday night, sweeping Converse College in its Conference Carolinas opener at Wilson Gymnasium, 25-11, 25-20, 25-18.
The Lady Bulldogs, the 2016 North Division and league tournament champions, trailed just once in any set against the Valkyries, that coming on the first point of the final frame. Barton (5-6, 1-0) hit .373 in the match, its best effort of the season, while holding Converse (1-9, 0-2) to just .097.
Freshman Kaytlin Elkins produced a match-high 11 kills for BC, and senior Courtney Wiseman added 10. Junior Angelica Acevedo pushed up 34 assists and added three service aces. The Valkyries were paced by Alexis Pitts, Kaylee Owens and Ansley Hodge, who had four kills each.
Barton rolled out to an 11-4 lead in set one and was never threatened, as Converse managed just four kills in the set.
Set two began the same way, as the Lady Bulldogs rolled out to a quick 17-7 advantage behind Elkins, who had four kills in BC's first 10 points. As Barton began to work its reserves into the lineup, Converse used a pair of service aces and kills from six different players to stage a big rally. The Valkyries closed to within three at 21-18, forcing a BC timeout, but Wiseman delivered one of her five second-set kills to help Barton right the ship again.
The Valkyries erased a four-point deficit to tie the third set at 10-all on a kill by Hodge, but a kill for Barton by Miller and two Converse attack errors put the Lady Bulldogs comfortably in front again, and the visitors never got the deficit closer than two points the rest of the way.
Barton will host Limestone College at 2 p.m. on Saturday.