Volleyball continues to struggle in conference play

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Kimberly Kuttelhut / Cluster Staff
Kimberly Kuttelhut / Cluster Staff

The Mercer volleyball team hosted the Northern Kentucky University Norse (NKU) in Hawkins Arena Friday night. The NKU game coincided with Mercer’s senior night which celebrated the Mercer volleyball careers of No. 9 Zoe Becton, No. 4 Carly Iannarino, No. 14 Lizzie Knapper and No. 13 Emily Rochefort.

Mercer played valiantly, but fell to the NKU Norse late in the match. The loss marked the fourth five-set match of the season, but ended in a frustrating loss for the Bears. The game is the 14th-straight loss of the Atlantic Sun Conference, and the 22nd-straight loss of the season.

The defeat caused Mercer to fall to 1-23 (0-14 Atlantic Sun Conference) while NKU jumped to 10-16 (5-8 Atlantic Sun Conference).

Sophomore Molly Locke had a season-high 19 kills and 18 digs, achieving a hitting percentage of 0.275 in the match. Locke made five errors on 51 attempts. Junior Caroline Carlton made 15 kills on 40 attempts.

Senior Emily Rochefort led all players with 28 digs; freshman Ellie James and senior Caroline Carlton each added 13 digs.

Mercer took the first set with relative ease, keeping the Norse at bay. The second set was much closer, leading to a 24-24 tie between the Bears and the Norse. A kill by Caroline Carlton and an ace by sophomore Jordan Gollon caused the Bears to break the tie and secure a two-set lead.

Northern Kentucky handedly took the third set in a reverse of the first. Mercer held a 22-16 during the fourth set, but the Norse made nine-straight scores to tie the set scores 2-2. During the fifth set, Northern Kentucky quickly took a 5-1 lead and maintained the advantage for the remainder of the set.

The next day Mercer hosted the Lipscomb Bisons in Hawkins Arena. The game, marked Mercer’s last home game of the season. Unfortunately, the home court advantage was not enough to ensure victory. The Bears, despite close individual sets, lost to the Bisons 3-0 Saturday. The Bears fell to 1-24 (0-15 Atlantic Sun Conference) on the year while Lipscomb moved to 18-6 (12-2 Atlantic Sun Conference).

Freshman Ellie James made nine kills, four digs and two block assists. Junior Caroline Carlton made eight kills and four total blocks.

Mercer was held a significant 17-9 lead in the first set, but an amazing comeback by Lipscomb result ended the first set in a loss for the Bears. During the second set, the Bears and Bisons alternated to a 10-10 tie. Lipscomb broke the tie, and maintained a solid lead for the rest of the set. During the third set, Lipscomb broke away from another 8-8 tie with five-straight points and again maintained the advantage to secure the game win. Sophomore Molly Locke achieved a team-high 15 digs and senior Emily Rochefort added 11 digs. Senior Carly Iannarino made 16 assists and freshman Tori Penrod added 12.

Mercer volleyball’s next game is at Jacksonville, Nov. 8 at 6 p.m.