Offense leads King to first Conference Carolinas title
BRSITOL, Tenn. – For the first time since joining Conference Carolinas, and the first time in five years, the King University women's volleyball team is conference champions. The Tornado defeated Mount Olive College 3-0 on Saturday afternoon in the Student Center Complex to earn a share of the Conference Carolinas title, going 17-1 in league play.
King (29-4, 17-1 CC) fell behind early, but Olivia Underwood ignited the high powered Tornado offense with a kill to even the first set at 5-5. Mariah Herington followed with one of her six kills before Summer Kremer added a kill on the 5-0 run. Kremer forced a Trojan timeout with another kill, and Maribeth Kern extended the lead to 12-6 with one of her three kills in the set.
It wasn't all easy however, as the Trojans (14-15, 10-8 CC) came back to take a 17-16 lead before Kelsey Griffitts made her presence known. She registered a kill to even the score, and Grace Underwood put King on top for good with one of her five kills in the set. Grace Underwood added a couple more kills before giving King a chance a set point with a service ace. Griffitts followed with a kill to give the Tornado the 25-21 win.
The Tornado opened the second set where they left of the first, as Griffitts gave King the early lead with a kill. Kremer and Grace Underwood added kills around a pair of Payton Tipton service aces before Blair Fields gave the Tornado an 11-3 lead with another ace. The lead grew to as many as 21-8 following an Olivia Underwood kill, and Kern gave King the 2-0 lead with back-to-back kills, capping the 25-14 win.
In the final set, the Tornado offense turned in their best performance of the day. King didn't make an attack error in the decisive set and had an attack percentage of .520. King held a slim 13-11 lead before they started to gain control of the frame, scoring four straight points to take a 17-11 lead after a Kern kill. The teams then traded points, and Mount Olive called a timeout trailing 24-16 with Kern at the service line. Following the break, Kern placed her serve on the back line to give King the 25-16, 3-0 sweep.
The win clinches King's first conference title since becoming NCAA Division II and Conference Carolinas members, and their first since 2008 when they were members of the Appalachian Athletic Conference. It is also King's 18th women's volleyball conference title in school history.
Kern led the Tornado with 11 kills while Grace Underwood chipped in with 10 kills on 13 attempts without and attack error. Herington, Kremer and Olivia Underwood added six kills apiece with Olivia Underwood dishing out a team-high 31 assists. Tipton and Kern both registered a team-best nine digs in the win, and Grace Underwood accounted for five of King's nine aces.
King will be in action again tonight when they host Virginia Intermont College at 6:00 p.m. in the Student Center Complex. The Tornado will be the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the Conference Carolinas Tournament which starts next Saturday, November 16.