PIKEVILLE – Rachel Murphy finished with 19 kills on the day, including a career-high 14 against Berea, to help the University of Pikeville volleyball team pull off wins against the Mountaineers and Bluefield State (Va.) on Saturday at UPIKE Gym.
Pikeville 3, Berea 0: Last season, Pikeville lost to Berea in three sets, this season it completed a 3-0 shutout. It’s that kind of improvement that is helping pave the way to the Bears becoming a consistent player in the MSC.
That’s not to say the three-set win came easy. The Mountaineers scored over 20 points in all three frames, including a marathon first set that ended with UPIKE on top 35-33. Pikeville closed out the win with sets of 25-22 and 25-23.
To win close matches you have to have big performances and none was better than Murphy. The freshman was 14 of 31 on the attack with just four errors for a .323 hitting performance. As a team, UPIKE outhit Berea .182-.164.
Berea kept itself in each set mainly due to its blocking. While Taylor Ashworth was its leader on offense with nine kills, it was the play at the net with 14 blocks that stood out for the Mountaineers.
Sydney Hall added nine kills, Haley Esquivel finished with eight and Chelsea Staples had seven for the Bears. The two-setter combo of Sydney Morris and Courtney Hodge finished with 27 and 13 assists, respectively.
Dominique Melvin picked up a match-high 13 digs and Hall and Staples each finished with a pair of blocks.
Starting at 26-25, UPIKE had five set points in the first frame before winning 35-33. The Bears led by as many as six points in the second and third sets, but both times let the Mountaineers tie it at 22-22.
Pikeville 3, Bluefield State 0: With Bluefield State hitting just .085 for the match, UPIKE had a little easier time securing a win, taking the match in shutout fashion 25-12, 26-24 and 25-11.
The second set was the only struggle as the Bears posted a .108 hitting mark, compared to a match-high .152 for the Blues. After a kill from Kendria Perkins, Bluefield State had a 19-15 lead. UPIKE had to put together an 11-5 run that included five errors by the Blues to pull off the win.
Bluefield State never recovered from the close loss as the Bears ran out to a 14-4 lead in the third set after an attack error by Perkins. The Blues put together back-to-back points just one more time in the set to make it 23-11 before kills from Staples and Katie Massie put the match away.
Esquivel paced UPIKE with 12 kills on just 18 swings for a .611 percentage and picked up three digs. Melvin led the defense with nine digs, while Massie finished with a match-high five blocks.
Hall and Murphy tallied three service aces each, while Hall also pitched in with eight kills on 15 swings (.333).
Morris dished out a team-best 13 assists and Hodge was close behind with 12. Leandrea Arbrister paced the Blues with 12 kills and Sydney Bishop finished with a match-best 16 assists.