Tornado Top Erskine in Regular Season Finale
The King offense was led once again by Ashley Pittman (Norris, Tenn.) and her 13 kills against the Flying Fleet. In her final game on her home court, she hit at a .257 success rate and added two blocks (1 solo) in the win.
Her counterpart on the front line, Sarah Van Goethem (Aurora, Colo.), recorded her 11th double-double of the season tallying 10 kills and playing great defense with a team-high 17 digs. Van Goethem hit at a .320 clip but also contributed on the net with three block assists.
Senior Kirsten Hamel (Weaverville, N.C.) was the definition of 'efficiency' for King in her final home game, recording nine kills and hitting at a phenomenal .818 rate. She committed no errors on her 11 attack attempts. While on the front row, Hamel also registered two block assists to take her season block total to 64, 53 by way of assist. Kelsey Griffitts (Bristol, Va.) hit .278 on 18 attempts, ending the day with seven kills and two block assists.
"The fact that both Kirsten and Kelsey are bring offensive and efficient it is going to make us a much harder team to defend," said Head Coach Chris Toomey. "Kirsten played like you hope seniors play in these kinds of games, stepping up and making a difference."
The Tornado defense limited Erskine's offensive output in their three games, allowing no member of the Flying Fleet to tally more than eight kills. Jamie Murray led Erskine with eight successful attacks and also led the team in hitting percentage (.240).
With Pittman's 13 kills on Saturday, she ends the regular season on a 12-match streak of having 10 or more kills in a match. In the team's 34 games, Pittman finished with double-digit kills in 28 games and easily eclipsed 1,000 kills in her Tornado career. She finishes the 2011 season with a team-best 461 kills and hit .241 as a season average.
"Ashley [Pittman] put together a very solid effort," said Toomey. "She always comes ready to play in big matches and always has been a big game player. She is one of those players that you want to have her to have the ball and she wants the ball in key situations."
After the conclusion of Friday and Saturday morning's matches, King's tournament future is set in stone. Though the Tornado and Flying Fleet have identical conference records and split the season series, Erskine earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Division based on the conference fourth-round tiebreaker. King has earned the No. 3 seed in the West which results in a match up against East Division No. 2 seed Mount Olive College at Mount Olive. Earlier in the season Mount Olive defeated King, 3-0.
"A big part of this tournament and this game is going to be mental," said Toomey. "Last time we were not mentally ready to play the match and when you play a good team like Mount Olive you cannot take breaks. We have to take care of our team. We will be prepared this time around mentally and with a game plan that will give us a good chance to win the match."