BRISTOL, Tenn. – The King University women's volleyball team opened their home tournament on fire as they won their first two matches behind a combined 36 kills from Maribeth Kern. The Tornado took a clean 3-0 sweep against Southern Wesleyan in their first match, and followed that with a 3-1 win over Carson-Newman University.
Kelsey Griffitts and Summer Kremer opened the match against Southern Wesleyan (9-6) with back-to-back kills to give King an early lead. Kern registered her first kill of the day later in the set to give King a 7-3 advantage. The lead stretched to eight, at 14-6 following another Griffitts kill, and Tornado held a comfortable lead the rest of the 25-15 set win.
The second set was played very tight as there were seven lead changes, 15 ties, and neither team led by more than three points in the frame. The Warriors had three chances at set points, but King held off each rally with kills from Griffitts, Kern and Kremer to extend the set. The Tornado then had a pair of set point opportunities before Kremer and Marian Herington drilled consecutive kills to give King the 29-27 set win.
Kern turned on her offense in the third set, registering the first two kills of the frame, and Kremer made it a 3-0 lead with another tally. The Tornado held a 13-10 lead before going on a 9-2 run to stretch their lead to 22-12. Kremer had two kills on the spurt while Griffitts chipped in with two. Kern gave the Tornado a chance at set point with her sixth kill of the set, and Grace Underwood ended the match with her seventh kill of the match giving the Tornado the 25-14 third set win.
Kremer led the Tornado while Kern wasn't far behind with 13 to go along with 13 digs for the double-double. Payton Tipton led the team with 16 digs and Olivia Underwood dished out a season-high 45 assists.
The first set of the nightcap with Carson-Newman (2-4) was tight as the Tornado offense started to heat up again late in the set. With the score even at 19 apiece, Kern sparked the King offense with a kill. Kremer then had three consecutive kills to extend the Tornado lead to 23-21 lead. Following an Eagle attack error, Herington gave King the 25-21 set win with one of her three kills in the match.
The second set was nearly as tight as the Tornado trailed 22-19 before Griffitts ignited the attack with one of her six kills in the set. Kern followed with her 11th kill of the set to give King a 23-22 lead. After and Eagle point, Kern hammed home another kill, giving King a chance to go up 2-0, and Griffitts made sure that happened with another kill as the Tornado took the set 25-23.
King's momentum rolled over to the third set as they quickly opened up a 10-2 lead, forcing a Carson-Newman timeout. The Eagle offense exploded out of the break, scoring six straight points to get within two. The Tornado weathered the storm, but the Eagles eventually came back to even the score at 18 apiece and forced a fourth set with the 25-22 set win.
The Tornado jumped ahead early in the fourth set, gaining a commanding 10-4 lead following a Jordan Baty kill. Baty then stretched the lead to 17-7 with one of her six kills in the match. The lead grew to as many as 12 points before Kern gave King the 25-14, 3-1 win with her 23rd kill of the match.
Kern led the Tornado with those 23 kills, and registered her second double-double of the day with 15 digs. Griffitts chipped in with 10 kills while Olivia Underwood bested her previous match with 47 assists. Including Kern, four players reached double figures in digs, and were led by Olivia Underwood's 20 digs for the double-double.
King will conclude play at their home tournament on Saturday when they face UVa-Wise at 12:15 p.m., and Concord University at 4:45 p.m.