Tirae Stevens, Staff Writer
The Armstrong State University volleyball team opened up action at home in the Pirate Athletic Center with two Peach Belt Conference wins.
On Friday, September 23, the Pirates blanked defending regular season league champions USC Aiken 3-0. The win also snapped a three-game losing streak the Pirates had against the Pacers. With the win, the Pirates improved to 11-1 overall and 1-0 in league play.
The Pirates got an early 8-1 lead in the first set thanks to a solid service run by senior Rachel Thompson. The Pirates hit .355 to clinch the first set 25-15. After setting a 16-all tie during the second set, the Pirates captured nine of the last 12 points to win the set 25-19.
In the third set, the Pacers had a 16-12 lead, but the Pirates were able to capitalize on strong kills and Pacer hitting errors— along with a 9-4 run— to clinch the set and the match.
Armstrong State hit .262 as a team for the match. Senior Kim Brody led scoring for the Pirates with 10 kills, while sophomore Raegan Grooms added nine. The notable stat of the night, though, came from service aces; the Lady Pirates scored a season-high 14 aces.
This tied a record the Pirates set against Christian Brothers University back in 2007.
“Playing Aiken and starting off with a win for our first conference game was awesome,” sophomore setter Carley Eiken explained. “We worked hard all week long and prepared mentally and physically for Aiken and I think that we did a great job of executing our game plan.”
The next day, Armstrong State welcomed the Bearcats of Lander University to the PAC and claimed a 3-1 victory to improve to 2-0 in the conference and 12-1 overall. The victory also allowed the Pirates to extend their winning streak to eight matches.
Lander capitalized on four team blocks and eight Pirate hitting errors to take the first set 25-21, but the rally for the Pirates began in the second set. Strong serving allowed the Pirates to cruise to a 25-12 second-set victory.
The Bearcats had a 21-20 edge during the third set, but three kills and a block from senior Rachel Thompson, along with a service ace from senior Brittany Hereth, allowed the Pirates to take the third set 26-24. Another 10-4 lead in the fourth set set the tone for the Pirates, and sophomore Raegan Grooms finished the set with a kill to allow the Pirates to take the match.
As a team, the Lady Pirates hit .219. Grooms was among three Pirates to record double-digit kills, with 16 kills to lead the Pirates in scoring. Thompson contributed 11 kills and four service aces, while sophomore Raquel Kulak added 10 kills and four blocks.
“We had an overall strong team effort today,” Grooms said about the win. “This week was a great week of practice and it really came together for us.”
Armstrong State, now 12-1 and 2-0 in conference play, returns to action on Friday, Sept. 30, traveling to the University of Montevallo to face the Falcons.