SSU volleyball drops straight-setter to Cumberlands (Ky.)

The volleyball program at Shawnee State University obtained 16 digs from Stacia Martin as the senior collected her 20th double-digit dig performance 22 games into the 2019 season, but the Bears couldn’t capitalize in any one of the three sets played against Cumberlands (Ky.) on Wednesday evening as SSU dropped a straight-setter (25-15, 25-18, 25-23) to the Patriots in a Mid-South Conference contest that was held in Williamsburg.

Throughout each of the sets played on the evening, Shawnee State started off right with Cumberlands as the duo traded the lead back and forth 11 times over the course of the opening set en route to a 7-7 deadlock after the opening 14 volleys of action, with Alissa Kefauver and Macie Rhoads combining for a trio of kills during the early portion of the match.

However, that margin quickly changed in favor of the Patriots as the opening set wound down, as Brianna Koch, Ashley Sobocinski, and Lily Chapman each collected three kills apiece in an 18-8 run that clinched the opening set in their favor.

As the match went on, however, Shawnee State came closer and closer to breaking through.

Led by a balanced frontline attack that included a kill each from Rhoads and Nashail Shelby, the Bears went on short spurts of 3-0, 4-1, and 3-1 en route to answering all runs by Cumberlands and taking a 10-6 edge as a result. Unfortunately for SSU, a second long dry spell hit as the Bears were outscored 17-4 on a run that allowed the Patriots to collect a 23-14 lead. Shawnee State, who was down by nine in the match, rallied back with kills from Rhoads and Bella Gill, along with a service ace from Rhoads, to close the margin down to a 24-18 mark, but a kill by Chapman — who posted a game-high 13 spikes — led the Patriots to a 25-18 victory in the second set.

Eager to start a similar comeback to the one found against Pikeville, Shawnee State dominated play throughout the early portion of the third set as the the Bears utilized a kill and a service ace from Rhoads to collect a 6-2 lead, then pushed the margin out to a 11-5 edge behind kills from Gill, Rhoads, and Shelby. SSU then answered a 5-0 run by the Patriots with a 5-1 run that included a kill by Rhoads and Gill, a service ace by Martin, and a double block from Rhoads and Gill that allowed SSU to push its lead to a 16-11 count.

However, Shawnee State couldn’t seal the deal.

Despite the play of Maria Kolinoff in the latter half of the third set — who posted four kills for Shawnee State — along with a pair of spikes from Kefauver and a kill from Alexis Palazzo, Chapman and Sobocinski proved to be too tough to stop as the duo combined for five kills to rally Cumberland, who trailed 19-16 in the third set at one point, to a 25-23 victory behind a 9-4 spurt.

During the match, Shawnee State was held to a .019 attack percentage. Cumberlands, who posted seven blocks to Shawnee State’s two denials, added in 39 kills on 19 errors while the Bears posted 24 kills and 22 errors in all. The Patriots also edged the Bears in digs, 49-45.

For the contest, Martin’s 16 digs on 20 receptions accounted for a .952 service reception mark while Rhoads’ eight kills, eight digs and one total block led the Bears. Kefauver’s 13 assists put the freshman as the top passer for the match.

With the loss, Shawnee State fell to 6-16 overall and 2-4 in Mid-South Conference action. The Bears will return to Waller Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon, where SSU will host Life (Ga.) at 2 p.m.

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