Panthers fall to Hendrix in five sets

Photo by Jimmy Mitchell
Photo by Jimmy Mitchell

CONWAY, Ark.—The Birmingham-Southern volleyball team dropped a five-set heartbreaker on the road today to Hendrix College in Southern Athletic Association action in Conway, Ark.

The Panthers fall to 16-5 overall and 5-4 in the SAA, while the Warriors move to 13-9 overall and 4-5 in league play.

The first set was close the whole way, but the Panthers never trailed, holding a slight lead for much of the set, with the exception of an 8-8 tie and then a 24-24 tie before BSC scored the final two points, courtesy of a Hendrix service error and a kill by senior Alex Bothe, to win 26-24.

Hendrix came out strong in the second set, quickly pulling ahead 6-1 to set the tone for the rest of the set. BSC tried to rally after falling behind 24-12, scoring four straight to cut it to 24-16, but the Warriors scored the set-winning point to win 25-16 and tie the match at 1-1.

The Warriors took command of the third set as well, pulling out to an 11-5 lead and never looking back, using several short scoring runs to win 25-13. Set four looked to be more of the same as Hendrix quickly went up 6-1, but the Panthers fought back, using a 10-3 run to take the lead, 11-9. BSC kept its lead, pulling up by as much as five, twice, while holding off the Warriors to win 25-22 on a kill by junior Kathleen Pfitzer, evening the match at 2-2 to send it to a fifth set.

Hendrix opened the deciding frame with four straight points, and would never relinquish the lead, although the Panthers clawed back to cut it to 7-6. That was the closest they would come, though, with the Warriors winning 15-11 to clinch the match and sweep BSC in conference play after winning 3-1 back on Sept. 22 in Birmingham.

Bothe and junior Meredith Lee led BSC with 18 and 16 kills, respectively, and they both recorded double-doubles as well (Bothe had a team-high 16 digs, Lee had 12). Sophomore Katie McCormack led with 22 assists, while sophomore Emily Dang recorded 12.

The Warriors had three players in double digit kills, while hitting .278 as a team to BSC's .125.

"When we played well today we were in control of the match, but more often than not we were too inconsistent," Head Coach Judy Green said. "We spent all of sets two and three out of system and could not put any strings of points together behind our serve. I am proud though of our team's fight and character because we had to lean on that to get us back in the match. We certainly had our chances to win again in five if we had a break or two go our way."

The Panthers stay on the road to continue SAA action this Wednesday, Oct. 16, facing Millsaps in Jackson, Miss., at 7 p.m. BSC returns home for the last regular season home stand next weekend, hosting Centre on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 11 a.m., and Sewanee on Sunday, Oct. 20, at 2 p.m. in Bill Battle Coliseum.