by Doug Page
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The Barton College women's volleyball team saw its season come to an end for a second-consecutive year in the NCAA Southeast Regional Quarterfinal. The Lady Bulldogs dropped a 3-0 (25-14, 25-13, 25-20) decision against top-seeded and host Flagler College on Thursday night at the Flagler Gymnasium.
The Lady Bulldogs (23-8), who entered the match as the No. 8 seed in the Southeast Regional bracket after securing the automatic qualification berth by winning the Conference Carolinas Tournament Championship, ran into a well-prepared Flagler squad. The Saints (25-3) garnered the top spot after winning the Peach Belt Conference Tournament Championship, which secured their eighth trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Barton was paced by freshman Kaytlin Elkins, who produced a match-high 14 kills to go along with six digs and two blocks. Senior Miranda Miller tallied five kills for BC, while junior Angelica Acevedo registered 19 assists. Senior Courtney Wiseman delivered a team-high three blocks on the night for the Lady Bulldogs.
The Saints were led by Sara Davis and Taja Valmyr, who each tallied 12 kills on the night. Tara Savisky dished-out a match-high 35 assists for Flagler and Kayla Norelli notched 13 digs for the Saints. Karlie Redfern also recorded eight kills and eight digs for Flagler.
Flagler brought some early momentum to the court as they jumped out to an early lead against BC. Elkins would record all five of the Lady Bulldogs' kills in the opening set as Elkins had 17 total attempts. BC struggled to get Flagler out of its rhythm, committing 11 errors in the set while the Saints were charged with six errors. The Saints capitalized on recording blocks when possible, tallying six in the first set with Raquel Kulak responsible for three.
After dropping the opening set 25-14, BC responded by recording seven kills in the second set and registering just four errors. Flagler, however, would get 14 kills and go 11-for-13 in sideouts to lead from wire-to-wire in the set. Valmyr paced the Saints offensively with seven kills in the set en route to the home team taking a 2-0 lead after notching the 25-13 victory.
Barton had its best attack of the night in the third set, recording 11 kills with only four errors. Elkins tallied six kills in the set for BC, while Flagler's Davis also registered six kills for the Saints to up her total to 12. The Lady Bulldogs held a pair of early leads in the set as Elkins gave BC a 2-1 advantage before Flagler went on a 4-0 run to take a 5-2 lead. Trailing 8-5, Barton had another rally in the tank using a 3-0 spurt to knot the score 8-8. The Saints answered by recording four-straight points to go ahead 12-8.
The Lady Bulldogs would trim Flagler's lead in the set to 20-17 before seeing the Saints pull-away again after using a 3-0 run to stretch the advantage to 23-17. BC got back-to-back kills from Miller and fellow senior Janay Yulis to get the Lady Bulldogs back within three points, only to see the Saints get the final kill from Redfern to secure the 3-0 sweep with the 25-20 victory.
The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Lady Bulldogs, who finished the season by winning 20 of their final 22 matches, including a perfect month of November entering play Thursday night. Barton finished the season just one win shy of tying the program record (25) set in 2003-04.