Kern, Willoughby lead King to win at Limestone
GAFFNEY, S.C. – The King University women's volleyball team faced some adversity on the road Friday night at Limestone College. The Tornado led the match 2-1, but fell behind by eight points early in the fourth set. However, the King offense awoke and dug out of the hole to close the match on a 21-5 run to take the 3-1 Conference Carolinas victory 25-21, 14-25, 25-19, 25-17.
One of King's strengths this season showed up early in the first set as Casey Williams started the match with a service ace. The Tornado scored another point before King and Limestone began to trade points in the first set. The teams stayed within one point of each other the entire set before the Saints (9-14, 7-7 CC) scored back-to-back points to take a 19-17 lead and force a Tornado timeout. Grace Underwood sparked a 4-0 King, and Maribeth Kern gave King a 20-19 lead, forcing a Saint timeout. Limestone got back within one point at 22-21, but Kern hammered home consecutive kills to give King a chance at set point. Kelsey Griffitts then ended the 25-21 first set win with one of her eight kills in the match.
The second set was tight early until the Saints gained control of the frame with a 6-0 run, giving them a 15-8 advantage. The Tornado couldn't muster a comeback as Limestone evened the match at 1-1 with the 25-14 victory.
Following the 10 minute break between sets two and three, Limestone came out and grabbed early lead. However, Payton Tipton capped a 5-0 King run with a service ace, giving the Tornado (24-4, 13-1 CC) a 6-5 lead. The score was even at 16 before King's serving showed up big again as Kern sparked a 4-0 run with an ace. Lauren Willoughby forced a Limestone timeout with a kill, and out of the break, Griffitts stretched the lead to 20-16. After a Limestone point, Willoughby registered three straight kills for the Tornado to give them a chance at set point leading 24-17. The Saints staved off a pair of set points before Willoughby ended the 25-19 set win with her sixth kill of the set.
The Tornado struggled to start the fourth set as they trailed 12-4 before their offense caught fire. Trailing 13-5, Jordan Baty ignited the King offense with a kill, and Kern followed with another. Griffitts registered a pair of kills around a Willoughby put away to even the match at 14 all. A Kern service ace gave King the lead, and the Tornado never looked back. In all, King went on a 9-0 run to gain control of the set with a 20-14 advantage. Willoughby registered three consecutive kills late on the run. Grace Underwood gave King a shot at match point with a kill, and then capped the 25-17 win with her third block of the match. The Tornado closed the match on a 21-5 run to stay atop the Conference Carolinas standings.
Kern led the Tornado all around as she posted her seventh double-double of the season with 11 kills and 17 digs. She also led the team with three service aces. Willoughby matched Kern with a team-high 11 kills while Griffitts and Grace Underwood chipped in with eight kills apiece. Tipton led King with 19 digs, and Olivia Underwood handed out 37 assists.
King will be in action again tomorrow as they face their final regular season road test at Converse College. First serve is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.