PIKEVILLE – Led by 15 kills from Connor Cook, the University of Pikeville volleyball team came extremely close to handing the University of the Cumberlands just its third loss of the season before ultimately losing 3-2 on Wednesday night at UPIKE Gym.
The Patriots (15-2, 4-1 MSC), which own a win over fifth-ranked Lindsey Wilson, edged the Bears (7-9, 0-5 MSC) with set scores of 24-26, 25-15, 25-19, 23-25 and 15-13.
While UPIKE continues to look for its first Mid-South Conference win, the close call against Cumberlands, receiving votes in the NAIA top 25, could be used as a good source of momentum heading into the second half of the season.
UPIKE led by as many as six points at 18-12 in the first set before allowing the Patriots to get within one at 22-21, then ultimately take the lead at 24-23. Not looking to let a quality start turn south, the Bears rattled off three straight points, including kills by Cassidy Tackett and Savanna Zakman to take the 26-24 win.
Good vibes didn’t last long for UPIKE as Cumberlands shot out to a 7-0 lead in the second set on its way to an easy 25-15 win in which it hit .448 as a team. A pair of 4-0 runs in the third set led to the Patriots taking that one 25-19 and things were looking good for the visitors at 2-1 overall.
UPIKE trailed 20-16 in the fourth set before going on a 6-0 run to lead 22-20. It never lost its lead from there, using a kill from Cook and error from UC’s Jessica Severs to send the match to a fifth set.
Cumberlands led by as many as five points in the final frame at 11-6, but the Bears made things interesting by getting within one at 13-12. However, two of the next three points were Patriot kills, giving them the win in a hard-fought contest for both sides.
As far as hitting percentages, the Patriots fared better at .224 as a team, compared to .120 for the Bears. Zakman led the match in assists with 36, while Lynsey Short paced Cumberlands’ two-setter attack with 27.
Megan Ganser tallied a match-high five blocks as the Patriots edged UPIKE at the net 16-15, despite a four-block showing from Sydney Hall. Hall joined Cook in double figures for kills with 12 as well.
UPIKE got a gift from the Patriots on serve, as they committed 19 errors, but ultimately they were better on the attack, posting a 61-47 advantage in kills to earn the win.