BRISTOL, Tenn. – King College took to the court against Limestone College in what turned out to be an epic Conference Carolinas matchup at the Student Center Complex (Bristol, Tenn.). Huge hits and long rallies were common throughout the match, as the Saints earned two opening set wins to back the Tornado into a corner early. Both teams kept the excitement constant as the Tornado provided diving digs and willful play fighting back to force a fifth game. King was unable to complete the comeback up two points and holding match point, losing in five games (18-25, 24-26, 25-21, 25-22, 14-16).
Limestone jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead to start the match, willing their way to a seven-point win in game one and taking a 26-24 decision late in game two. King had been down by as many as six points and was two points from losing the second set when they stormed back to tie the game at 23 all. An overturned call on an attempted kill shifted momentum back toward Limestone where they then finished out the set, 24-26.
Jeremy Funk (Lancaster, Pa.) smashed his way passed the Saints with five big kills in game three, including the game-ending kill in a 25-21 Tornado win. King jumped out to an early 8-3 lead where 25 contributed a duo of kills, but Limestone jumped back into contention after falling down nine points and bringing the game back within three, 13-10. 25 continued to shine three additional kills to help separate King from the Saints, including the game-ending kill.
A pair of long rallies and kills from James Friddle (Carterville, Ga.) helped keep the Tornado within a pair of the Saints, but Limestone struggled at the net early with a pair of errors that let the hosts back into the contest.
Key blocks by Matthew Harper (Matoaca, Va.) had the Tornado rolling, as Eric Glenn (Portsmouth, Va.) and Friddle were leaping over the competition with huge spikes. The games were paced with matching energy and intensity, as both teams would not yield to the other into the final five points that decided the match. A final rally in front of the net had Glenn putting the ball away to give the Tornado a 24-22 lead in a game that was never led by more than two points on either end. A big diving save by Brandon Rorer (Richmond, Va.) kept the ball alive on a Limestone kill, allowing Friddle to force a game five with one of his eight kills in the match.
Limestone took the early lead in game five before a solo block by Harper jolted the Tornado into gear. King steam rolled through, passing the Saints for a 10-8 lead in this final game to 15. Harper held the net tight, keeping the Limestone attacks to minimum. Up by two points after a LC service error and one point away from a King win, Limestone relentlessly caught up to King in the end tying the game, 14-14. Big rallies timelessly came and went, but the Saints' Scott Warren put down the go-ahead kill and a front line stand blocked an attack attempt at the net by 14, giving Limestone 14-16 set win and match victory.
Warren led the Saints with 18 kills of 50 attempts (.240) while teammates Kevin Hart and Andrew Miller each ended with 12 kills. Andrew Pile had 40 of the team's 44 assists while three had double-digit digs.
Matthew Harper and Eric Glenn each had 11 kills to lead the team offensively. In addition to his kill count, Glenn had 2.5 blocks (one solo). Brandon Rorer led the team with 19 digs. James Friddle had an excellent all-around game with eight kills, 15 digs, and a block assist. Two Tornado players had 10-plus assists, including Michael Koebel (16) and Stephen Brown (13). Both players also had eight kills.
With the loss, King drops to 7-14 overall, 1-5 in Conference Carolinas play. The Tornado get back on the road to take on two non-conference matches against Lewis University (DII) and NCAA Division I Loyola (Ill.). King will face the Flyers on March 13 at 8:00 p.m. EST / 7:00 p.m. CST.