NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Belmont University Volleyball was able to beat back a feisty Alabama A&M squad to secure the first head coaching victory for Katelyn Harrison on Tuesday evening in the Curb Event Center. The Bruins (1-3) went on to blank the Lady Bulldogs (3-1), 3-0, handing them their first loss of the young season.
The opening set was a high energy back and forth battle between the teams that had not faced off since 2012. Neither team was able to build a lead greater than two points before the opposing team caught up and knotted the score even as the contest raced towards the midpoint of the set. Suddenly, the Bruins exploded offensively and rolled off four straight points, pulling ahead 24-20. The stunned Lady Bulldogs called a timeout, hoping to regroup but sophomore Taylor Floyd (Louisville, Ky.) drilled a kill to seal the 25-20 set victory.
Belmont carried the momentum over into the second set, tallying three straight points to open the frame. BU continued to maintain distance between the teams, expanding the point differential to three, 14-11. The flurry saw Alabama A&M burn a timeout that seemed to do little to slow the streaking Bruins. The Lady Bulldogs finally found an offensive rhythm and moved to close the gap to two points, 17-15, forcing BU to call for a break in the action. Their surge was short lived as Belmont looked to sophomore Mary Catherine Ball (Hendersonville, N.C.), Floyd and junior Akia Warrior (Fort Worth, Texas), whose kills helped the team brew a 4-0 lead that saw AAMU call its second timeout, trailing 21-15. Belmont continued on full steam ahead and used a service ace by sophomore Faith Cobaugh (Union, Ky.) and a resounding kill by junior Halee Van Poppel (Argyle, Texas) to take the set, 25-17.
Alabama A&M hustled to get back into the contest at the start of the third set but Belmont was quickly able to regain control with a 5-0 run, capped with a service ace by sophomore Carly Mason (Forsyth, Ill.). The Bruins pull away by five, 9-4, and the Lady Bulldogs called for their first breather of the set. After the break, BU did not let up and was able to push to its largest point differential of the match, 18-9. The Lady Bulldogs fired back with a 6-0 run, finally cross the double digit plateau, and cutting Belmont's lead down to three, 18-15. However, that was as close as the visitors would come down the stretch as Belmont turned on the afterburners and cruised to the 25-17 win to collect the match victory.
For the match, Van Poppel posted a match-high 16 kills. Floyd added 11 kills in the effort. Cobaugh tallied a match-high 16 digs while classmate Mason finished with 21 assists. Ball recorded a match-high six block assists.
Belmont returns to action this weekend at the CEFCU Invitational, hosted by Bradley. The first match for the Bruins is Friday at 12:30 p.m. versus host-Bradley. Live stats will be available all each match of the tournament and the contest against the Braves can be seen live on ESPN+. Fans may also follow the team's Twitter account (@BelmontVB) for live, in-game updates.