by Doug Page
AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Barton College Bulldogs opened the USC Aiken Invitational with a pair of wins on Friday from the Christenberry Fieldhouse. BC defeated Catawba College 3-0 (27-25, 26-24, 25-23) to open the day before defeating Carson-Newman University 3-1 (21-25, 26-24, 25-16, 25-16).
Barton (3-9) started the afternoon with a close matchup against Catawba as the two teams went past the regulation 25 points in the opening set. BC held off late rallies from the Indians in each of the second and third sets to record the sweep. The Bulldogs would then rally after dropping the opening set against Carson-Newman. Barton gained momentum in the second set and finished off the match with a pair of 25-16 victories against the Eagles.
In the first match of the day for Barton, the Bulldogs would have an early seesaw battle with the Indians as the first set featured eight ties and three lead changes. Sophomore Kaytlin Elkins tallied a match-high 17 kills to go along with 12 digs. Freshman Sarah Kirk tallied a career-high eight kills for BC while adding 15 assists and 13 digs. Senior Angelica Acevedo recorded a team-high 21 assists, while freshman Peyton Kendall added six kills and three block assists.
The Bulldogs opened the match by trading early leads with Catawba and saw the set tied 24-24. The Indians battled to even the score 25-25 before junior Kelsey Riquelme delivered back-to-back kills to secure a 27-25 victory for BC.
In the second set, BC held a 24-21 lead before the Indians rallied to knot the score 24-24. Following an attack error by Elkins, she would respond with consecutive kills to give the Bulldogs a two-set lead in the match.
Catawba wouldn't go down without a fight and rallied late in the third set to erase a 23-20 deficit to knot the set. The Bulldogs would keep their composure following an ace from the Indians as Kirk delivered a kill to give BC back the lead. The match would go to the Bulldogs on the next point as an attacking error ended Catawba's chances for a comeback.
The second match of the day started a little differently for the Bulldogs as Carson-Newman took a 1-0 advantage following a 25-21 victory in the opening set. BC gained its composure for the second set and rattled off three straight victories to record its second win of the day. Kirk followed up her first performance of the day by recording a career-high 17 assists in the match to go along with 11 digs and seven kills. Elkins tallied a match-high 15 kills for the Bulldogs, while Riquelme tallied a career-high nine block assists. Senior Haley Headley added seven kills for Barton.
Barton used a 4-0 rally midway through the set to knot the score 15-15 as sophomore Ashley Owen delivered an ace following a kill from Acevedo. Carson-Newman called a timeout and would answer with a pair of points to regain the lead. The Eagles would lead for the rest of the match and close out the set off an attack error by the Bulldogs.
In set two, BC went on a 3-0 run to erase a 21-18 deficit and force the Eagles to call a timeout after seeing the score even at 21-21. The timeout would work as Carson-Newman answered with a pair of points to take a 23-21 edge. A kill from Elkins followed by an ace from Acevedo knotted the score once again. A block from Kirk and Riquelme gave the Bulldogs a 26-24 victory in the set to knot the match 1-1.
Barton used a pair of big rallies in each of the third and fourth sets to secure its comeback against the Eagles. Barton would lead by as many as 10 points in the fourth set (20-10) following an ace from Owen. Kills from Elkins and Acevedo in the fourth set capped off a 25-16 win for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs continue their play in the USC Aiken Invitational on Saturday against Lander University at 10 a.m. and USC Aiken at 7 p.m. Video and live stats will be available for both matches with links posted on the Barton women's volleyball schedule page at www.bartonbulldogs.com.