GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – Tornado women's volleyball traveled up the road to regional rival Tusculum College to compete in the Pioneer's annual Fall Classic. King lost both of its matches in the opening day of the tournament to host Tusculum(20-25, 21-25, 12-25) and later Francis Marion (21-25, 15-25, 25-20, 25-27) on Friday night.
King (2-5) battled through injury to multiple key players and experimented with new lineups in both matches. The Tornado played without middleback Kirsten Hamel while outside hitter Sarah Van Goethem played a limited role during the first day of action.
The Tornado battled with Tusculum to 10-10 ties in each of the first two games before the Pioneers broke away for a pair of wins. King fell behind 5-0 early in the third game before Tusculum broke away toward a 10 point lead, and eventually the clinching set by a score of 25-12.
Ashley Pittman (Norris, Tenn.) led the Tornado in their first match with 10 kills and a .400 hit percentage on 20 attempts. Natalie Brown (Brentwood, Tenn.) lined up the libero and made 11 of the team's 31 digs.
Tusculum improved to 5-1 after defeating King and later beat Montevallo College in straight sets for its sixth win of the season.
In four games with Francis Marion (2-4), King jostled with the Patriots to three set losses by less than five points. The Tornado trailed only one point (15-14) to Francis Marion before the Patriots went on a 6-2 run, leading toward their opening set win.
After falling in the second match, King broke out to a five point lead, 18-13, and maintained that cushion toward a third set win. Game four was back and forth during the entire match, taking a 23-23 score to the very end. No team ever had more than a three point lead at any point in the match. After Francis Marion tied the game at 14, no team ever had more than a one point advantage until a winner was decided. Tied at 25, the Pioneers benefitted from a service ace and a game-ending attack error to clinch the win over King.
Shannon Earwood (Carson City, Nev.) tallied 51 assists against Francis Marion. Three Tornado players recorded double-digit dig numbers when Brown notched 26 while Van Goethem and freshman Payton Tipton (Cleveland, Tenn.) both had 11. Pittman added to her two-match kill total of 32 after recording 22 kills against the Pioneers.
I felt like we were fighting more at the end of the Francis Marion match," said head coach Chris Toomey. "Our backs were up against the wall and they really just turned it on and turned it around. We had opportunities in the fourth game but were just unable to close the door on them."
Toomey continued, "We have two really tough opponents tomorrow (Saturday). These tournaments are housing really solid teams. We just need to concentrate on playing our best game, improve and learn with every game and match."
King will play two matches on Saturday to conclude the Tusculum Fall Classic. The Tornado open with Montevallo (2-5) at 3:00 p.m. before ending with Lenoir-Rhyne at 7:00 p.m. from Pioneer Arena.