by Doug Page
DUE WEST, S.C. – For the second-consecutive season and second time since the 1991 season, the Barton College women's volleyball team claimed a conference regular-season championship. The Lady Bulldogs defeated Erskine College 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-12) on Friday night and claimed the 2017 Conference Carolinas North Division Championship.
The Lady Bulldogs upped their overall record to 17-6 on the season while moving to 11-0 in conference play. BC also stretches its winning streak to 14 matches and surpasses a 13-match winning streak from a season ago. Erskine dropped to 2-19 overall this season and 1-12 in the conference. Barton claimed the North Division title with the win and a loss by Belmont Abbey College. North Greenville University handed Belmont Abbey a 3-2 defeat on Friday night.
Freshman Kaytlin Elkins recorded a match-high 15 kills for Barton while adding six digs and two service aces for the Lady Bulldogs. Freshman Ashley Owen notched a match-high 12 digs, while senior Miranda Miller added nine kills and 10 digs for BC.
Barton junior Angelica Acevedo registered a match-high 30 assists to go along with seven digs and a pair of block assists. Senior Courtney Wiseman finished the night with eight kills and a .438 hitting percentage for the Lady Bulldogs.
Erskine was led by a team-high four kills from Faith Grant and Kirsten Kaiser. The duo also helped the Flying Fleet to record 8.5 blocks as a team on the night, with Grant tallying three solo blocks and Kaiser adding four assisted blocks.
The Lady Bulldogs saw Erskine take a quick 1-0 lead in the opening set after a service error by Owen, but responded with a 4-0 run to take control of the set. BC upped its lead in the set to 7-2 after a three-point rally and looked to be in full control. The Flying Fleet would answer, however, using a 4-0 run to trim the deficit to 8-7.
Back-to-back kills by Cullens and Elkins gave the Lady Bulldogs a 16-11 lead and some breathing room. Leading 23-17, BC utilized a kill by Cullens followed by an attack error from Erskine's Reilly Bartlett to claim the first set, 25-17.
The second set started on a much better note for the Flying Fleet, who raced out to a 4-1 lead after Barton scored the first point of the set. Erskine followed the 4-1 run with another four-point rally to up its lead to 8-2 after an ace from Bartlett. Barton would call a timeout during the rally to talk things over and try to switch the momentum. Elkins answered the call for BC, delivering a kill and consecutive aces to trim the deficit to 8-5.
Erskine saw Barton pull to within two points of knotting the score in the set before adding four-straight points to take a 15-9 lead. A bad set by the Flying Fleet ended the run and brought the Lady Bulldogs to within five points. Red shirt junior Riley Bane would take over for BC, delivering back-to-back aces to trim the gap to 15-12. A pair of bad sets by Erskine coupled with an attack error allowed Barton to knot the score 15-15.
Barton would secure the lead in the set after Elkins recorded consecutive kills to make it 22-19 BC. Wiseman gave BC a 25-22 win in the set and a 2-0 lead in the match with a kill of a set from Acevedo.
The Flying Fleet seemed poised to once again gain momentum, this time recording the first three points of the third set to take a 3-0 lead. BC wouldn't allow the run by Erskine to change its game plan and responded with a 6-0 run to take a 6-3 lead. A service error ended the run for the Lady Bulldogs, but Barton quickly responded by adding a pair of points for an 8-4 advantage.
A 5-0 rally in the set by BC stretched its lead to 18-8 and put the Lady Bulldogs in the driver's seat. Erskine trimmed the deficit to 22-12 in the set after a kill by Grant but saw Barton use a 3-0 run to close out the set and the match. Barton recorded a 25-12 win in the set and a 3-0 sweep in the match.
Barton faces Conference Carolinas South Division leader Emmanuel College on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Franklin Springs, Georgia. Emmanuel is 15-9 on the season and 11-2 in conference play and has won each of its last three matches.