By Carolina Garcia, Staff Writer
The Armstrong Pirates’ volleyball team began its journey to a fifth straight Peach Belt Championship this past weekend and it was a tough start for team. The Pirates hit the court Friday, Sept. 4 to open the season against the Tusculum Pioneers as part of the 2015 Pirate Invitational.
The Pioneers ended Armstrong’s 28-match home winning streak with a 3-2 over Armstrong with set scores of 21-25, 25-21, 30-28, 17-25 and 15-10. This was the first loss at Alumni Arena for the Pirates in nearly two years.
Tusculum started the match off with a quick 2 -1 match score and took the last set, quickly setting the score at 10-4 for the Pirates to fight back. The Pirates had to fight to win the first set as they didn’t want to drop their first home match since losing to the Pioneers in the 2012 NCAA Regionals.
Juniors Anna McGee and Emily Wylie led the team with 20 kills, while fellow junior Paige Gocke had 12. Freshman Carley Eiken delivered 25 assists with freshman Selene Ushela recording 30 digs. Overall, the Pirates hit .254, with 68 kills and eight service aces. Despite the Pirates outscoring the Pioneers 11-2 on blocks, the team recorded 15 service errors.
The team looked to turn things around with a doubleheader against Brevard College and Lincoln Memorial Saturday, Sept. 5. The Pirates tipped things off with an early match-up with the Tornados.
The home team opened their Saturday with a 3-0 sweep over Brevard with scores of 25-19, 27-25 and 25-16. The Pirates had 10 blocks as a team, while hitting .299. Eiken added 15 assists and junior Brittany Hereth matched McGee with 11 digs, who also led the team with a .499 hitting percentage.
Next, the Pirates faced Lincoln Memorial and suffered a tough loss 3-2 with set scores of 25-20, 23-25, 21-25, 25-23 and 15-9. Wylie led her team with 23 kills, five service aces, and four blocks while hitting .283. McGee contributed 15 kills, and Eiken added 27 assists and 11 digs, while Ushela had 22 digs.
The Pirates will travel to Lakeland, Florida, Friday, Sept. 11, to play in the FSC/Terrace Hotel Classic against West Texas A&M and Merrimack.