by Doug Page
WILSON, N.C. – For the second consecutive year, the Barton College women's volleyball will make an appearance in the NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball Championship. The Lady Bulldogs defeated Belmont Abbey College, 3-0, on Sunday to claim the Conference Carolinas Championship title.
"I feel like we prepared so well", stated Barton College head coach Jeff Lennox following the Lady Bulldogs' victory. "The girls were so focused and locked in that they made the match fun. They played loose and I'm just really proud of them. It's an honor to coach a group like that."
The Lady Bulldogs improve their overall record to 23-7 on the season, while Belmont Abbey finished its season with a 17-12 overall record. Barton secured its second-straight season sweep of the regular season and tournament championship titles while placing two players on the 2017 All-Championship team (junior Angelica Acevedo and senior Courtney Wiseman). Red shirt junior Riley Bane was named the 2017 Most Outstanding Player for the Lady Bulldogs.
"I thought we executed the game plan really well", noted Lennox. "We served aggressively and we passed really well, so we won the serve-and-pass battle. I thought we dug the ball really well and transitioned. We played well in all facets of the game."
Barton will wait to see where it heads for the opening round of the NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball Championship as the selection show will be held on Monday, Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. via www.ncaa.com.
Freshman Kaytlin Elkins paced the Lady Bulldogs offensively with a match-high 17 kills while adding five digs and three aces. Senior Miranda Miller recorded seven kills and 12 digs for BC, while freshman Ashley Owen registered 11 digs and two aces.
Acevedo tallied a match-high 30 assists to go along with eight digs and two aces for Barton, while Bane registered a match-high 19 digs for the Lady Bulldogs.
The Crusaders were led by a team-high 11 kills and 10 digs from Mackenzie Chrapliwy, while Cassidy Bonito tallied a team-high 29 assists to go along with seven digs for Belmont Abbey. Lexi Henriott recorded six kills and seven digs for the Crusader, while Sarah Kenney notched a team-high 12 digs.
Belmont Abbey would take control of the opening set after securing a 4-1 lead, but the Crusaders saw Barton rally to knot the score 4-4. The Lady Bulldogs used a 4-0 run to take a 5-4 lead following a kill by Elkins. Chrapliwy recorded consecutive kills for Belmont Abbey, giving her team a 6-5 lead. The Lady Bulldogs took advantage of several errors by the Crusaders en route to taking hold of a three-point (9-6) lead.
Trailing 22-13 in the set, Belmont Abbey found some momentum offensively, using a 3-0 run to trim the deficit to 22-16. The Lady Bulldogs would respond as Elkins delivered the final kill to secure a 25-18 victory.
Both teams used rallies early in the second set as Barton tallied the first four points before Belmont Abbey countered with a 3-0 spurt. Back-to-back aces from Elkins gave the Lady Bulldogs an 8-4 lead in the set. The Crusaders then turned things around by scoring five-unanswered points to take a 10-9 advantage in the set. The Lady Bulldogs trailed 16-12 in the set after an attack error but got things back on track with a 5-0 rally to take a 17-16 lead.
Holding a 24-21 lead in the set, Barton looked to close-out the Warriors but saw Belmont Abbey tally consecutive points to trim the gap to 24-23. Following a timeout by the Lady Bulldogs, Elkins and Acevedo teamed-up to give the BC a 25-23 victory in the set and a 2-0 advantage in the match.
The Crusaders again held an early lead, this time in the third set as Belmont Abbey scored five of the first seven points to take a 5-2 lead. Bane and the Lady Bulldogs answered with a 4-0 rally to take a 6-5 lead. Bane delivered two of her three aces on the afternoon during the run.
Holding a 13-9 lead, BC used a commanding 7-0 run to take a 20-10 advantage in the third set. The run featured a pair of kills from Miller and a pair of aces from Owen. Belmont Abbey would cut the deficit to 24-15 following a kill by Brianna Morgheim, only to see BC answer with a kill from Wiseman to give the Lady Bulldogs a 25-15 win in the set and a 3-0 sweep of the match.
"We controlled the tempo of the match from the beginning to the end", stated Lennox following the match. "The girls felt really confident, and it was fun to be a part of."
Barton has won each of its last six matches and recorded 10 aces against the Crusaders, a night after tallying 12 against Southern Wesleyan.