Cumberland falls in five to top seed
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Fifth-seeded Cumberland University pushed Freed-Hardeman, the TranSouth Conference regular season champion, to five sets before falling in the TranSouth Championships being held at Trevecca Nazarene University on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs (18-13) battled back from a set down twice but were unable to complete the comeback against the top seed.
The decisive set remained tight through the midway point as Cumberland trailed by no more than two points until the Lady Lions went on a 6-2 run to close out the 15-10 win. A score of 6-5 was the only time CU held the lead in the fifth set, which saw six ties.
Freed-Hardeman dominated the first set, winning 25-12 on the strength of eight hitting errors by the Bulldogs. CU managed only five kills in the set, three by junior college transfer Jessica Gericke, and finished with a negative .103 hitting percentage. The Lady Lions opened the set with a 6-1 run and after giving up Cumberland’s second point used another identical stretch to open up a 12-3 lead.
Roles were reversed in the second set as FHU finished with more errors than kills as the Volleydawgs tied the match with a 25-17 victory. Kayla Arnold of Greenbrier, Tenn., tallied four kills in the set and came up with a huge block on an attack by Nataly Gutierrez that gave Cumberland set point.
The Lady Lions stormed right back, taking a one-set advantage with a 25-15 win in the third set. CU continued to improve its hitting, recording nine kills to only two errors. However with 18 kills in the set, FHU had an attack percentage of .455. Trailing by a point at 8-7, the Bulldogs fell into a hole they could not climb out of when Freed-Hardeman went on an 8-1 run.
Facing its first loss of the tournament in the fourth set, Cumberland battled out of a six-point hole early in the game, going on a 5-0 run to get within one. CU took its first lead of the set at 16-15 when a Gericke kill capped a 6-1 span. Gericke, who hit .385 in the match, collected four of her team-high 12 kills in the set.
Twins Kaysi and Kayla Arnold each finished with 11 kills, while fellow freshman Courtney Zigman of Aurora, Ohio and Cookeville High School product Taylor Denney recorded 21 and 19 assists, respectively. Jordan Pescatore of Birmingham, Ala., had 16 digs, while former Macon County High School standout Brooke Bowers totaled a dozen. Senior Tracy Smallwood of Portland, Tenn., picked up three service aces in the contest.
The Bulldogs will face Martin Methodist in an elimination match at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.