Stars Come Up Short in Hard-Fought Battle with Williams BaptistFreshman Kerri Kircher continued her streak of offensive success with 19 kills in four sets
COLUMBIA, Mo. – (Box Score) In its second-to-last match of the season, the Stephens College volleyball team took Williams Baptist (Ark.) down to the wire and nearly forced a tiebreaker set. However, a comeback bid by the Stars (6-23, 1-9 AMC) was ultimately spoiled by WBC’s 27-25 win in the fourth set. The Eagles (20-8, 5-5 AMC), who swept Stephens in the first meeting of the year (Oct. 19), squeezed out a 25-22, 23-25, 25-21, 27-25 victory on Friday (Nov. 8).
Right from the get-go, the two teams battled point-for-point, setting the tone early for the rest of the match. In the first set alone, there were eight ties and four different lead changes. Each time the Stars would get within a point, Williams Baptist had an answer. The Eagles grabbed the 1-0 advantage with a 25-22 win in the first set.
Plagued by attack errors, Stephens College was faced with a 7-3 deficit early on. Slowly but surely, the Stars worked their way back into the game and took the lead back at 9-8. If the eight ties in the first set wasn’t enough, the second set was highlighted by 19 ties and 10 lead changes. Down by one, the Stars received an offensive boost from middle hitter Kerri Kircher and Madison Reale with three consecutive kills to even the match at 1-1. Kircher and Reale had six kills apiece and hit above .500 for the set.
Despite a valiant effort by the freshman duo of Kircher and Alyssa Beavers (5 kills apiece), the Eagles notched a .303 team attack percentage in the third set and had just three attack errors compared to the Stars’ seven. Williams Baptist held off a late surge by the Stars to win 25-21.
Stephens found itself digging out of another hole as the Eagles rattled off six points in a row to start the fourth frame. Down by as much as six, the Stars went on a 6-2 run midway through to tie the set at 18-18. The rest of the way was a back-and-forth battle. The Stars kept the fans on the edge of their seats smacking down kills in three different match-point opportunities for the Eagles. Inopportunely, setter Samantha Phegley was pegged with a controversial lift call to conclude the match.
Kircher led all players with 19 kills on .286 hitting for the night. Setting her up for several beautiful kills was junior captain Samantha Phegley, who tallied 50 assists and 17 digs.
Also reaching double-digit kills on Friday was Alyssa Beavers with 14 and Madison Reale with 11. Defensively, four Stars had 10+ digs, including libero Tanya Avington who had a match-high 24.
Both teams were successful at the net, as Williams Baptist edged Stephens in total blocks, 12-8.
The Stephens College volleyball team will finish its 2013 season on Saturday (Nov. 9) with one last home match at Silverthorne Arena. The Stars take on Lyon College at 1 p.m.