by Doug Page
WILSON, N.C. – The Barton College women's volleyball team entered its Conference Carolinas semifinal matchup on Saturday looking to earn the right to participate in the championship game on Sunday. Barton would do just that as the Lady Bulldogs defeated Southern Wesleyan University in straight sets at Wilson Gym, 25-12, 25-21, 25-18.
The Lady Bulldogs improve their overall record to 22-7 on the season, while Southern Wesleyan finished its season with a 16-13 overall record. The two sides produced a five-set thriller earlier this season, with Barton winning 3-2 after trailing 2-0 against the Warriors.
Barton will host the North No. 2 seed Belmont Abbey College on Sunday, Nov. 12, for the 2017 Conference Carolina Championship. The Lady Bulldogs will face the Crusaders beginning at 3:00 p.m. inside Wilson Gymnasium. The Crusaders were victorious in their semi-final matchup, defeating South No. 1 seed North Greenville University, 3-1.
Freshman Kaytlin Elkins paced the Lady Bulldogs offensively with a match-high 22 kills while adding 10 digs and five aces. Senior Miranda Miller recorded another double-double for BC with 11 kills and 10 digs on the night.
Junior Angelica Acevedo notched a double-double for Barton, tallying a match-high 44 assists to go with 10 digs, while red shirt junior Riley Bane registered a team-high 16 digs for the Lady Bulldogs.
The Warriors were led by a team-high 12 kills from Paige O'Connor, while Annika Jones tallied a team-high 21 assists to go along with three block assists for Southern Wesleyan. Anna Hughey added 11 digs for SWU.
Barton raced out of the gates in the opening set to take an 8-1 lead after consecutive kills by Elkins. The Lady Bulldogs used a 3-0 run to up their lead to 15-4 following an ace from freshman Ashley Owen. The Warriors tallied back-to-back points to trim the deficit to 21-12 but would see Barton go on a 5-0 run to take the first set. Elkins served-up consecutive aces for BC to secure the 25-12 victory and a 1-0 lead in the match.
Southern Wesleyan battled in the second set after falling behind 7-4, rallying for three-straight points. The run by the Warriors knotted the score 7-7 and gave the visitors some momentum. The set remained tied 8-8, until BC rattled-off five consecutive points to take a 12-8 lead.
A quick 3-0 run by the Lady Bulldogs gave them a 19-12 lead and the momentum back in the set. Trailing 23-16, Southern Wesleyan had one more surge, stringing together four-straight points to trim the gap to 23-20. Elkins would end the run with a kill off an assist from Acevedo. The duo would then put the finishing touch on the set to give BC a 25-21 decision and a 2-0 lead in the match.
Barton scored the opening six points of the third set before the Warriors used an attack error by the Lady Bulldogs to stop the rally. An ace from Acevedo upped the BC lead to 9-1 and capped a 3-0 run that would be answered by three consecutive points from SWU. Leading 15-5 in the set, the Lady Bulldogs saw the momentum change as the Warriors won six of the next seven points to cut the deficit to 16-11.
The Lady Bulldogs rallied by taking three-straight points from the Warriors to take a 22-13 advantage. A kill by O'Connor pulled the Warriors to within six points (22-16) of BC but a kill from Miller secured the set (25-18) and the match for Barton.
Barton will play in the Conference Carolinas championship match for the second-straight year on its home-court. The Lady Bulldogs have won each of their last five matches and are 2-0 this season against Belmont Abbey.