Panthers rally to win five-set thriller against Rhodes

Photo by Jimmy Mitchell
Photo by Jimmy Mitchell

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—The Birmingham-Southern volleyball team rallied after losing sets two and three against Rhodes, winning 3-2 Saturday afternoon in Bill Battle Coliseum.

The Panthers move to 10-1 overall and 1-1 in the Southern Athletic Association, while the Lynx fall to 2-11 overall and 1-1 in the SAA.

BSC won the first set 25-23, with the winning kill coming from freshman Laura Van Peursem. In set two, after the teams were tied at 12-12, Rhodes used a 9-2 run to pull up 21-14 and eventually won 25-19 on a kill by Lauren Johnson.

The Lynx pulled out to a 7-2 lead to open the third set, prompting a BSC timeout, after which the Panthers scored five straight points to tie it up 7-7. The teams played to four more ties after that, leading up to the 13-13 mark, after which Rhodes scored six straight to go up 19-13. BSC was able to cut it to 21-17 and 22-18 down the stretch, but three straight kills by Catherine Grimes put the set away for Rhodes, 25-18, putting the Lynx up 2-1 in the match.

BSC opened the fourth set 4-0, but Rhodes fought back quickly and the teams stayed close up to the 9-9 mark, after which the Panthers used a 5-0 run to pull up 14-9. BSC stayed in the lead, although the Lynx cut it to 18-17, prompting a 7-2 run by the Panthers to win the set, 25-19, and send the match to set five.

Rhodes scored the first point of the final set, but BSC responded with four straight points and then pulled ahead 7-3 and 10-5. Rhodes kept things interesting, though, fighting back to 10-9, and then trading points with the Panthers before scoring twice in a row to tie things up 13-13. After a BSC timeout, the Panthers pulled ahead 14-13 on a free ball that turned into a kill by sophomore libero Lauren Bedford, and then won the set and the match on a kill by Van Peursem.

"First of all, what a great win for our team, to be down 1-2 and show the character to come back to pull it out," Head Coach Judy Green said. "We executed extremely well in the fifth set, especially late in the set, to get it done."

Junior Meredith Lee led the Panthers with 12 kills and had 11 digs for a double-double, while Van Peursem posted 11 kills and a .529 attack percentage. Senior Alex Bothe and Bedford had 21 digs apiece, and sophomore setter Emily Dang led with 21 assists. Sophomore Caitlin Lee also saw time at setter, recording 10 assists.

Grimes led all players with 18 kills, while Rhodes setter Michelle Quina had 37 assists and libero Maraia Tremarelli had 29 digs.

BSC is at home again tomorrow, hosting conference rival Hendrix College at noon and then facing non-conference Agnes Scott College at 2 p.m., both in Bill Battle Coliseum.