October 29, 2011

Heavy Hitters Lead Lady Tornado to Win Over Bulldogs

BRISTOL, Tenn. – King Women's Volleyball received contributions from some not-so-familiar sources in their straight set win over Barton College on Saturday afternoon. The trio of Kelsey Griffitts, Shannon Earwood and Kirsten Hamel combined with Ashley Pittman's ninth straight double-digit kill game led the Lady Tornado to a 25-22, 25-23, 25-12 victory.

"This is just what we needed after last night's loss," said Head Coach Chris Toomey. "To win and do it with a complete team effort over a very tall team, it is encouraging with only a few games left."

King trailed late in both the first and second games of the match but rallied back to take each game before dominating in the third. The Lady Tornado trailed by five points, 22-17, before Sarah Van Goethem (Aurora, Colo.) led the team on an 8-0 run to close out the first set. Griffitts registered three kills during that run before being capped off by a service ace by Van Goethem.

Game two played out the same as the previous with both teams battling back and forth until the Bulldogs pulled away with a lead. Down 20-22, King rallied with a 5-1 run to close out the second game behind Pittman's three kills during the rally. The Norris, Tenn. native turned the tide by tying the game at 22 points with consecutive kills fed by Shannon Earwood (Carson City, Nev.). Pittman then finished the rally and the game with a hit from the right side to lead the Lady Tornado to a second game victory.

King (19-12, 11-5) ran away with the third game, ending the set on a 10-2 rally. Kirsten Hamel (Weaverville, N.C.) exploded to record six of her eight kills in the third set. She also added one solo block and two block assists in the frame.

"Kirsten really stepped it up in that third set for us," said Toomey. "I was really impressed with her play today and she showed why we like her on that front line. We are going to need that down the stretch and as we approach the conference Tournament."

Griffitts finished with 10 kills on the day, the second time she has ended a match with ten or more kills and the first time since Sept. 9 when she tallied 16 against Francis Marion. The sophomore from Bristol, Va. laid down kills with authority mainly in the first and second sets. Griffitts had a .500 hit percentage in both the first and second sets, going 6-for-12 in the first set and 3-for-6 in the second. For the game, she hit .316 and added a block assist and a dig.

Pittman finished with 13 kills, marking the ninth straight game with double-digit kills and the 27th of the season. She came into the game leading the league in total kills, now possessing 427 in 2011, and third in kills-per-set.

Shannon Earwood quietly picked apart the Barton defense, regularly finding holes on the court while tallying a season-high seven kills on 11 attacks (.545). She added 38 assists, three digs, one solo block and one block assist to her stat line in the win over Barton.

"She [Earwood] had an all-around great game today," said Toomey. "She has great vision on both sides of the court and made a lot of great decisions today with the ball."

King is in the middle of a four-game homestand that will end the regular season for the team. The Lady Tornado will close out with three conference games at home, beginning with North Greenville on Tuesday, Nov. 2 at 7:00 p.m. The final two games will be against Converse (Nov. 4) and Erskine (Nov. 5).