NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Belmont Volleyball looked to be firing on all cylinders but its strong rallies were not enough to hold off Southeast Missouri State on Sunday afternoon. The Redhawks (3-2) held on for the 3-1 win over the Bruins (0-3).
Belmont opened the first frame, firing on all cylinders. BU used kills from newcomer Laura Shoopman (Salem, Wisc.), freshman Kristen Clemons (Louisville, Ky.) and sophomore Kailee Bass (Aurora, Ill.) to pull ahead 11-5. The sudden flurry saw the Redhawks call timeout to regroup. After the pause in action, SEMO clawed back into the set and narrowed the point differential to three, 17-14. However, the Bruins rebounded to pull away again. A resounding cross-court kill by junior Taylor Floyd (Louisville, Ky.) pushed SEMO to burn its final timeout of the set as BU surged to a five-point advantage, 20-15. Belmont did not look back and put together a string of points to secure the 25-17 victory.
Southeast Missouri State attempted to start the second stanza with a different pace than the opening one, grabbing an early 5-1 lead after rolling off four straight points. The Bruins battled back and closed the gap to three points before the Redhawks surged again behind another 5-0 run to pull ahead, 12-4. Belmont was forced to burn its first timeout. SEMO did not let up after the brief break and pushed behind another scoring run to go up, 21-8. BU refused to quit down the stretch, firing off five consecutive points to shock the visitors. The flurry closed the gap to 22-13 but Southeast Missouri State was able to hold on for the 25-15 win.
In the third set, the teams traded points early before the Bruins rallied to take the lead, 14-12. A strong kill from senior Halee Van Poppel (Argyle, Texas) was enough to give Belmont a two-point advantage heading into the media break, 15-13. SEMO knotted the score six times as the teams tussled for the lead. Belmont was first to 20 after a skyhook kill from junior Carly Mason (Forsyth, Ill.) but the Redhawks came charging back and tied the score again. SEMO dug in and used a 3-0 run to pull ahead, 22-20. Eager to get back into it, BU called for a timeout to strategize. Southeast Missouri would not roll back with the set victory within reach, pushing ahead to grab the 25-21 win.
Set four saw the Redhawks pull ahead quickly, thanks to a 5-0 scoring run. SEMO controlled the early half of the frame, going up 13-6, before Belmont called for a timeout. After the break, Southeast Missouri State continued to roll, building a double-digit lead as BU struggled to find its offensive rhythm from the earlier sets. The Redhawks quickly reached 20 points and did not look back, cruising to the 25-10 set win.
For the match, Shoopman led the Bruins with 11 kills followed by Clemons, who tallied six. Mason posted 17 assists while freshman Rachel McBride (Decatur, Ill.) added a match-high 21 digs.
Belmont returns to action on Monday afternoon for the rematch contest with Southeast Missouri State in the Curb Event Center, First serve is set for 4 p.m. Live stats will be available and the contest can be seen live on ESPN+. Fans may also follow the team's Twitter account (@BelmontVB) for live, in-match updates.