October 1, 2011

Lady Tornado Top Royals in Tight Finish

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Upperclassmen Ashley Pittman and Sarah Van Goethem paired up behind another solid defensive effort in a five-set victory over Queens University (N.C.) on Saturday afternoon. The Lady Tornado defeated the Royals (26-28, 25-18, 25-16, 23-25, 15-9) to eliminate another previously unbeaten team in league play.

From inside the Queens Sport Complex, the Tornado (11-8, 5-1) began with a wild first set loss that took extra points to determine a winner. King dropped the opening game 28-26, but stormed back with consecutive set wins by six or more points to take a 2-1 advantage into the fourth game. Once again, a winner was decided at the wire, though the Royals forced a fifth set in a first-to-15 race. King jumped out and maintained a comfortable lead en route to a 15-9 set win, giving them the match victory.

Sarah Van Goethem (Aurora, Col.) and Ashley Pittman (Norris, Tenn.) combined for a second consecutive match of more than 40 kills between them. Pittman led the team and set a new season-high with 27 kills through five sets while Van Goethem ended her night with 15 kills. Van Goethem also contributed 17 digs and three service aces in an all-round solid performance.

"When you have two strong outside hitters, you are going to have success," said Head Coach Chris Toomey. "To have those two [Pittman and Van Goethem] performing at a high level day in and day out has been huge to our success."

Defensively, the Lady Tornado had seven blocks combined with Shannon Earwood (Carson City, Nev.) and Mariah Herington (Jonesborough, Tenn.) both possessing a pair of block assists. Pittman had the lone solo block for the Lady Tornado.

"Defense is an area we have really worked on in practice," said Toomey. "I told them I want them to be relentless and want to make our opponents frustrated when they play us. We are beginning to embrace that now and we have seen big-time improvement in that area."

Natalie Brown (Brentwood, Tenn.) led King with 36 digs on the floor and also added a kill and three assists. Earwood had 47 of the team's 55 assists.

As a team, King registered 12 service aces against Queens, their most against a conference opponent this season and the most as a team since they compiled 17 against Bluefield State on Sept. 13. The Lady Tornado are now 3-1 in five-set matches this season, winning each of their last three.

Toomey continued, "The win says a lot about where our team is, how our confidence is building and what we are ready to accomplish. Queens is a really good team and has been at the top of the conference for some time so for us to give them their first conference loss is really exciting for us. Hopefully will make a statement in the conference."

The Navy and Scarlett are currently on a three-game win streak with all three wins coming on the road against Conference Carolinas schools. They have now won nine of their last ten matches with their only loss coming at the hands of Lees-McRae, the only remaining team unbeaten in league play. They will continue their six-match road trip with a stop at Erskine College (11-6, 6-1) for another top Conference Carolinas matchup on Oct. 5. The three teams remaining on the current road trip have a combined Conference Carolinas record of 19-2, to date.