by Benny Benton
MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Barton College extended its winning streak to six matches with a hard-fought four-set road victory over University of Mount Olive Tuesday night at Kornegay Arena, 25-22, 25-21, 23-25, 25-23.
The win helped the Lady Bulldogs improve to 5-0 in Conference Carolinas play and 9-6 overall. Mount Olive, which entered the match tied for second behind Barton in the league's North Division, slipped to 3-2 in the conference and 6-8 overall.
Barton freshman Kaytlin Elkins, who earlier in the day was named the league's player of the week, paced the Lady Bulldogs with 20 kills, including four crucial ones to help BC close out the match. The Hope Mills, N.C., resident also added 10 digs and four blocks.
Haley Headley chipped in 12 kills and Allie Cullens contributed 10 for the winners. Miranda Miller produced nine kills and a career-high 28 digs to help the cause, and Courtney Wiseman collected nine kills and six blocks. Angelica Acevedo added 53 assists and 15 digs for BC, and Riley Bane tossed in 17 digs.
Mount Olive was led by a match-high 22 kills from Britni Johnson, nine of those coming in the final set. Johnson also collected 20 digs. Cyerra Carter added 11 kills and Casey Fiechter chipped in 21 digs for the Trojans.
After letting the third set slip away, Barton bounced back to take an early 10-3 lead in set four behind Elkins, who had three kills in the run.
However, Johnson led a furious UMO rally by delivering seven kills in a 13-3 spurt for the Trojans that put Mount Olive in front, 16-13.
Barton pulled within one at 16-15 on a kill by Cullens, but UMO went on another 5-2 run, helped by three Barton errors, to take a 21-17 cushion.
Elkins then stepped up for the Lady Bulldogs, hammering four kills over the next five points to move Barton back into the lead, 23-22.
A service error by Elkins helped UMO tie the set at 23-all, but a kill by Miller put BC on match point, and Barton finished off the win with a block by Headley and Wiseman.
Headley had five kills in a tight first set that saw the two sides produce three lead changes and eight ties, the final time at 15-all on a kill by Brittany Barnett. BC went on a 5-1 run that included two kills and a block by Headley, a kill and block by Cullens, and an Owen ace.
Mount Olive closed back within one at 22-21 after a Barton attack error, but a service error gave Barton possession and a two-point cushion, and two kills by Headley finished off the set for the Bulldogs.
Although Barton led throughout the second frame, much of the set was close. Trailing 20-15, Mount Olive trimmed the deficit down to a single point at 22-21 on a Kamber Skeen service ace, but the Lady Bulldogs claimed the final three points, two on kills by Miller.
Barton trailed 18-14 in a close third set when the Bulldogs went on a 7-1 run to take a 21-19 advantage. Wiseman and Elkins had a pair of blocks and Elkins added two kills over the stretch.
The two sides traded points to make it 23-20 Barton, but the Trojans rolled off the last five points of the frame to grab the set.
Even Barton's early run in set four could not steal momentum from Mount Olive in front of its home fans, and Johnson's play midway through the frame put the Trojans in position to force a tiebreaker set before the Lady Bulldogs rallied to take the match.
Barton will hit the road again on Friday, visiting the team that was tied with Mount Olive for second place entering the day, Belmont Abbey College. The Bulldogs and Crusaders will square off at 7 p.m.