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Volleyball - Sat, Oct. 7, 2017 by Troy Baranik

LAURINBURG, N.C. - The St. Andrews University women's volleyball team split their AAC North Division conference games at home over the weekend. SAU first dropped a heartbreaking five set match to Bluefield College (Va.) (25-19, 17-25, 25-16, 19-25, 10-15) Friday evening before upsetting Union College (Ky.) in four sets (22-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-15) on Saturday morning.

SAU 3, UNION 1

The Lady Knights pulled off their top win of the year so far rolling past AAC leader Union College (20-7, 9-2 AAC), a team that was receiving votes in the latest top 25 NAIA poll. However, Union actually came back and stole the first set from the Knights 25-22 behind 13 kills and a .209 attack percentage while SAU recorded 16 kills in the opening set, but made more errors.

The Knights, now 12-7 overall and 8-4 in the AAC, then reduced their errors as the match wore on as they steadily wore the Bulldogs down. Union's error count then increased as they made 8 errors in the 2nd set with the Knights pulling away late to take it 25-21 on 3 kills and hitting .189. SAU then got off to a strong lead at 12-7 in the third set before holding UC off to take that one 25-21 as well behind 14 kills while hitting .209.

SAU then dominated the fourth set jumping out to a 14-5 lead and not looking back en route to a 10 point win on 10 kills and 8 Union errors. SAU recorded more kills overall, 53-44, and hit .155 for the match while keeping Union under a .100 hitting percentage. The Knights also recorded more digs than the Bulldogs, 84-77 led by freshman libero Karina Lozada (FR/Bayamon, Puerto Rico)'s 25 digs.

Senior middle blocker Kiah Cheatham (SR/Kalamazoo, MI) led the Knights by finishing with 15 kills on 34 attacks and just one error to hit .412 with three digs, two blocks, two assists, and an ace.

Senior outside hitter Tessa Smith (SR/Jacksonville, FL) then recorded another double-double for the Lady Knights with 13 kills and 14 digs along with a block. Smith also had a double- double in the Bluefield game on Friday putting her at 10 double-doubles for the year. Smith also has 214 kills on the season now and over 1,100 for her career as well as 249 digs this year and over 1,250 for her career.

Junior middle blocker Destiney O'Kane (JR/El Paso, TX) also played well registering 9 kills and a team-high five blocks while hitting .208. Fellow middle, senior Lindsey Wagner (SR/Austin, TX), had a good game as well hitting. 296 with 10 kills. Senior right side hitter Andrea Navarro (SR/Salinas, CA) also contributed five kills and our blocks with 5 digs in the win.

Sophomore setters Shalia Powell (SO/Dayton, NV) and Brooke Thomas (SO/Brunswick, GA) also combined for 49 assists and 14 digs while senior DS Austin Payne (SR/Kingsport, TN) contributed 18 digs to go along with her team-best four aces.

BLUEFIELD 3, SAU 2

SAU controlled the first set vs. the Rams on Friday taking it 25-19 behind a season-high of 20 kills while hitting .390. The teams combined for 31 kills and just 5 errors in the opening set led by Cheatham's nine kills for the Knights.

The tide then turned in the second set as the Rams came back to take that one 25-17 on 13 kills while hitting .400 and forcing the Knights into 10 errors on the attack.

The third set then switched back into SAU's favor using 12 kills and hitting .265 to take it 25-16. Unfortunately, Bluefield would get out to a huge lead at 14-3 and 18-8 in the fourth set before the Knights began to rally cutting it down to five at 20-15 but could get no closer as they dropped that game 25-19 on 15 errors as Bluefield sent it to a decisive fifth game.

In the 5th game, Bluefield (12-10, 9-2 AAC) led from the start for the 15-10 win on 8 kills while holding the Knights to just four kills.

Smith picked up a double-double in the match recording a team-high 14 kills and 21 digs with two aces while Cheatham finished with 12 kills, 7 digs, and 2 blocks and hit .346.

Wagner then added 11 kills with four digs while senior right side hitter Andrea Navarro threw in six kills as well. Sophomore middle Alex Blackwell (SO/Menifee, CA) also added five kills while freshman Kylie Winchell (FR/Morehead City, NC) added three blocks.

Powell also had a double-double with 22 assists and 12 digs while Thomas had 19 assists with five digs, one ace and one kill. Defensively, Lozada and Payne combined for 28 digs while Lozada added five assists and a kill.

St. Andrews will next go on the road for a short trip to Columbia, SC to face South Division foe Allen University (11-7) on Tuesday at 6:30 PM.

 
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