Tirae Stevens, Staff Writer
The Armstrong State volleyball team pushed their winning streak to five matches during the weekend of Nov. 11-12 with victories over the UNC Pembroke Braves and the Francis Marion University Patriots at home in the Pirate Athletic Center. With these wins, the Pirates improve to 22-6 overall and 12-5 in the Peach Belt Conference.
Armstrong State took on the Braves on Friday, Nov. 11 for military appreciation night. Donning new camouflage-themed jerseys, the Pirates topped the Braves three sets to none. Set scores were 25-23, 25-22, 25-11. UNC Pembroke led for most of the first set, but the Pirates got a pair of kills from sophomore outside hitter Raegan Grooms, an ace from sophomore setter Carley Eiken, and a pair of hitting errors from the Braves to take the first set by two.
A Grooms kill finished off the tight second set for the Pirates, 25-22, then Armstrong State scored the first six points of the third set on the way to the 25-11 win and the victory. Grooms led scoring for the Pirates with 12 kills, while freshman outside hitter Autumn Mayo added 10 kills. Eiken tallied 36 assists and four service aces, and junior libero Iva Scepanovic had 11 digs.
The next day, the Pirates welcomed the Francis Marion University Patriots to the Pirate Athletic Center, hoping to get even after the 3-1 loss to the Patriots earlier in the season. It was senior day for Armstrong State, and the Pirates held a ceremony before the match to honor their three senior players: middle hitter Rachel Thompson, outside hitter Kim Brody, and outside hitter Brittany Hereth.
Francis Marion started off the first set on a 10-4 run, but the Pirates scored eight of the next nine points to take a 12-11 lead and eventually win the set, 25-17. Armstrong State held the Patriots to just nine kills in each of the three sets and closed out the match by starting the third set on a 10-1 run en route to the 25-17 win and the sweep. The Pirates ultimately took the match 3-0, with set scores being 25-17, 25-21, 25-17.
Sophomore middle hitter Raquel Kulak led the scoring for Armstrong with nine kills. Four more Pirates each added eight kills to the team total: Raegan Grooms, Autumn Mayo, Rachel Thompson, and Kim Brody. Carley Eiken gave 35 assists, sophomore Kristi Vaughn collected four service aces, and Iva Scepanovic led the Pirate defense with 23 digs.
“Getting the win on senior day was so amazing,” Kulak said after the match. “Playing beside the seniors all year has been the best, and getting the win today with them was even better.”
“These two wins are just what we needed to keep our momentum going and our spirits high,” Eiken added. “Now we are focused on finishing the regular season strong and getting to conference tournament.”
The Pirates closed out the regular season with a match at home on Monday, November 14 against the Bobcats of Georgia College—a match rescheduled from Hurricane Matthew. They will next return to action to compete in the Peach Belt Conference tournament.