AIKEN, S.C. – The Converse College (2-9) volleyball team earned a split during day one of the Pacer Invitational on Friday, September 20. After being swept by Valdosta St. (6-4) in the opening match, Converse came back to defeat UNC Pembroke (7-6) in an absolute thriller during the nightcap. In the match versus the Braves, the Valkyries established two program records en route to their first-ever win against UNCP.
Scores: Converse 0, Valdosta St. 3; Converse 3, UNC Pembroke 2
Records: Converse (2-9), Valdosta St. (6-4), UNC Pembroke (7-6)
Location: Convocation Center, Aiken, S.C.
INSIDE THE BOXSCORE
- Sophomore libero Elizabeth Yohe set a new program record with 43 digs against UNC Pembroke.
- The Valkyries also established a new team record with 129 digs versus the Braves.
- Junior outside hitter Brittany Tepedino smashed 23 kills, second in program history, to go along with 10 digs in the nightcap.
- Freshman setter Lottie Hutson provided 29 assists and 19 digs, her best effort as a Valkyrie.
- Senior outside hitter Alexis Pitts delivered 16 kills in the second match of the day.
- Junior setter Lauren Tharrington collected a double-double with 23 assists and 11 digs.
HOW IT HAPPENED – Game One vs. Valdosta St. (10-25, 14-25, 17-25)
Valdosta St. quickly raced out to a 7-2 lead, forcing an early timeout by the Valkyries in order to regroup. The brief hiatus did not favor Converse as VSU collected five of seven to balloon the lead to 12-4.
The Blazers continued to pour it on, stretching their lead to double-digits (21-8) late in the opening frame. Converse trimmed the deficit to 21-10 after collecting two straight points, but that was as close as it would get with Valdosta St. taking the final four points of the set.
Once again the Blazers came out strong, building a 5-1 lead to start the second frame. After VSU took a 10-4 lead, a massive kill from Alexis Pitts cut that gap in half. However, Valdosta St. blew the set wide open with a 14-6 run, taking a dominant 24-11 lead.
Converse staved off a trio of set points, but it was too little, too late as VSU took a commanding 2-0 match lead following a score of 25-14 in set two.
The third set was a back-and-forth affair at the onset. With the score at 8-8, Valdosta St. used an 8-2 spurt to take a 16-10 lead midway through the frame. Converse ripped off two in a row, but Valdosta St. put the pressure on following a 6-2 run.
However, from that point it was all academic as VSU took three of the last four points to capture the set, as well as the match.
HOW IT HAPPENED – Game Two vs. UNC Pembroke (19-25, 25-14, 25-22, 24-26, 17-15)
Pembroke jumped out to a 9-6 lead early in the opening set and that three point lead carried throughout the majority of the frame. The Braves built a 19-15 advantage late, but Converse cut the lead in half following a kill by Kiara Cannon.
However, Pembroke finished the opening set on a 6-2 run, taking the 1-0 match lead.
Tepedino opened the second set with a kill, sparking a massive 10-2 run by the Purple and Gold, capped off by a service ace from Tharrington. UNC Pembroke collected four straight points to trim the deficit to 10-6, but Converse continued to sizzle on the offensive end, running off seven of eight points to push ahead by double-digits (17-7).
That advantage ballooned to as many as 12 points (24-12) before a Tepedino kill finished the set at 25-14, evening the match at 1-1.
Coming off an absolute dominant second set, Converse came out a little sluggish to start the third, falling behind 3-0. However, back-to-back kills by Cat Jumper helped to fuel five in a row by the Valkyries, who took the lead at 5-3.
UNC Pembroke battled back to knot the frame at 7-all, but Tharrington put on a clinic at the service line, ripping off seven straight, including three service aces, to give Converse the momentum back at 14-7. The Braves did not back down, coming all the way back to tie the contest at 16 following a vital 9-2 run.
From that point the set was tied four different times, but with the score deadlocked at 22, Converse took the final three points to take control of the match, 2-1.
The fourth set was as evenly matched as it could get as neither team could build more than a two-point lead. After trading the initial 48 points, UNCP took the final two points of the set, sending the match into the all-important fifth set.
Converse took an early 3-0 lead in the final set following back-to-back kills from Pitts and Jumper, but the Braves were able to tie the frame with three in a row if their own. From that point the game set mirrored the previous with a plethora of ties and lead changes.
UNC Pembroke looked poised to earn the five-set win after building a three-point lead late in the set, but Converse showed its resilience and fought its way back to tie the score at 15-15, ensuring extra and free volleyball for both teams. An attack error and massive kill from Tepedino capped off the comeback and gave Converse the thrilling win.
Converse will be back in action tomorrow morning, completing day two of the Pacer Invitational. The Valkyries will take on Francis Marion at 10 a.m. before concluding the two-day event against USC-Aiken at 12:30 p.m.