SSU VB falls in five set heart-breaker

Despite a career high 23 kills from Macie Rhoads and strong performances from Stacia Martin, Maria Kolinoff and Alissa Kefauver, the volleyball program at Shawnee State University dropped a narrow five-set defeat to the Georgetown (Ky.) Tigers’ volleyball program (25-23, 22-25, 11-25, 25-22, 19-21) in an amazing battle between the two Mid-South Conference foes on Tuesday evening at Waller Gymnasium in Portsmouth.

In the thrilling five-setter, the Bears continued to show improvement offensively as Shawnee State picked up its attack mark to a .153 as a team and hit for a .222 attack percentage in the third set and a .289 mark in the fifth and final frame of the contest. Defensively, however, SSU couldn’t keep Georgetown from producing in a strong manner as the Tigers hit .246 as a group, including outstanding marks of .455 and .333 from an attack standpoint in the third and fifth sets en route to two set victories that would help decide the match.

From the opening serve, both units showcased how the contest would play out as Georgetown took an early 7-3 lead before Shawnee State rallied right back with a 5-1 run that tied the score at eight apiece. Both teams, who tied or traded the lead a dozen times in the match, then fought one another back and forth as SSU, down 16-14, rallied with a 3-0 run to take a 17-16 lead before Georgetown answered with a 3-0 spurt of its own en route to taking a 19-17 advantage.

However, when the smoke cleared, Shawnee State emerged with the lead, and the set victory, behind a critical 5-1 run that featured kills by Bella Gill and Nashail Shelby that gave the Bears the point, and collected the set win behind a service ace from Ball that helped close the set out for good.

Unfazed, Georgetown came right back in the second set of play.

After back-to-back kills from Kefauver that gave SSU a 2-0 lead to start the frame, Georgetown battled back to force five ties and a pair of lead changes before claiming the lead for good in the set on a 5-1 run where the Bears committed four attack errors in the set. Four kills combined from Kefauver and Rhoads over the final 11 volleys of the set wasn’t enough as SSU fell by a 25-22 mark in the second set.

Following an insurmountable 13-1 advantage that gave Georgetown a 25-11 set victory and a 2-1 match lead, Shawnee State regrouped themselves in the fourth set en route to clawing their way back into the fight. After eight ties or lead changes, the Bears used a 6-1 run off of the strength of a pair of kills from Rhoads, who helped push the SSU lead to 13-8 following the contest’s first 21 volleys.

Georgetown battled the gap back down to 16-14, then closed to 21-20 after a brief SSU spurt, but at that point, the Bears got help from Gill and Kolinoff, who teamed for a pair of kills in a game ending 4-2 spurt that tied the match squarely at two games apiece and sent the affair to a match-deciding fifth stanza.

In that fifth frame, Shawnee State started out the set by playing arguably its best volleyball of the evening as the Bears’ two most lethal hitters of the evening — Rhoads and Kefauver — were put in excellent positions to convert attack attempts. In all, the pair combined for five kills over the set’s first eight volleys as the Bears jumped out to a 7-1 advantage, then 9-4 after a Gill spike halted a mini 3-1 run by the Tigers.

However, as the set went on, SSU’s effectiveness around the net began to fade. Following Gill’s kill, Georgetown embarked on a 8-3 run that tied the score at 12, and from there, neither unit worked with much breathing room as the duo tied or traded the lead with each other 13 times in the final frame — all the way to a 19-19 deadlock. The valiant effort by the Bears, however, ended there as a kill by Ashton Meckle, along with an attack error from SSU, gave Georgetown the set and match victory as the Tigers took the extended set, 21-19, and the match, 3-2.

Rhoads, who amassed her career-high of 23 kills in the match, posted a .340 attack percentage and obtained seven digs to boot for SSU, while Kefauver added in 12 digs on a .333 attack percentage while adding in an astounding 23 assists and 23 digs in the contest. Martin’s 27 digs, along with Kolinoff’s 22 assists and 20 digs, led the Bears in their splendid effort despite the match result.

With the narrow setback, the Bears fell to 3-13 overall and 1-3 in the Mid-South Conference, while Georgetown improved to 7-8 and 1-1 in the Mid-South with the victory.

Shawnee State will look to get back to its winning ways as the Bears take on Asbury in a nonconference matchup. Game time is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday evening.

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