PEMBROKE, N.C. â€" The Valkyries volleyball team dropped both matches of a tri-match on Tuesday evening inside of the English E. Jones Center. Converse fell in a five-set thriller to host UNC Pembroke during the first match before dropping straight sets to Shaw University in the nightcap. Converse is now 1-5 on the season.
GAME ONE: CONVERSE 2, UNCP 3 (25-23, 10-25, 12-25, 25-20, 10-15)
Kenzie Schmaltz led the Valkyries offense, flirting with a double-double as she posted a career-high tying 14 kills to go along with eight digs, while Sydney Allen added a career-best 26 digs. Lauren Tharrington also had a career day as she finished with bests in assists (25) and kills (5). Kaylee Owens knocked down eight kills, a career-high, while hitting .353.
Set one was evenly played throughout. Converse jumped out to an early 3-1 lead following a kill by Schmaltz, but Pembroke quickly erased the deficit with an 8-3 run, earning a small 9-6 lead. That lead grew to as many as four (17-13), but the Valkyries continued to press forward, eventually tying the set at 17 after a 4-0 scoring run.
With the first frame tied at 20 each, UNCP reeled off three consecutive points and looked poised to take a 1-0 match lead, but Converse had other ideas, ripping off the final five points and taking the set 25-23.
The second set had a different feel as UNC Pembroke raced out to a sizeable 11-5 lead, forcing a timeout by the Valkyries. The brief hiatus did nothing in terms of momentum as the Braves ballooned its lead to 21-7 before tying the match at 1-1 with a 25-10 set two win.
After exchanging the initial eight points of set three, Pembroke took control of the set with a positive 8-1 burst. Converse tried to maintain pace with the Braves, but failed to do so, dropping set three by a final of 25-12 and falling behind 2-1 in the match.
The fourth set was a seesaw battle as the two team traded the first 34 points. With the score tied at 17-all a kill from Alexis Pitts followed by a block assist from Kiara Cannon and Tharrington gave the Valkyries a 19-17 advantage. However, just as the rest of the set went, UNCP took two straight to deadlock the frame once again.
Back-to-back unforced errors by the Braves finally allowed Converse to breakthrough with a late-set, pivotal 6-1 run, giving the Valkyries a 25-20 set win and sending the match into a fifth and deciding set.
In a race to 15, UNC Pembroke broke early stride with a fast 9-3 start. Following a timeout from the Valkyries, and with their collective backs against the wall, CC ran off 5-1 run to get back into the contest at 10-8. Unfortunately, that was as close as the score would get with Pembroke taking the final set by a final of 15-10.
GAME TWO: CONVERSE 0, SHAW 3 (15-25, 12-25, 19-25)
Converse came out in the second match of the tri-match with a lot of energy, pushing out to a 5-1 lead on the Bears. After the slow start, Shaw used a 9-4 run to take its first lead at 10-9, a lead that would not be relinquished as SU cruised to the 25-15 set win.
Shaw carried the momentum into the second set, taking the first four points. After back-to-back kills by Tharrington and Pitts, SU used a massive 11-1 run to take a commanding 15-3 advantage. Down 20-5, Converse did not go quietly, collecting four points in a row and seven of nine to put pressure on the Bears and their lead. Journee English fueled the streak with back-to-back service aces. However, the gap proved to be too large as Shaw took set two, 25-12.
A Cannon kill opened the third set, but once again Shaw used an early run (7-3) to take control of the frame early on. Three straight and four of five from the Valkyries knotted the set at 8-8. However, Shaw took four scores consecutively and eight of nine to push back ahead 16-9 deep into the third frame. Converse cut the score to five (23-18), but could not get over the hump as Shaw took two of the next three points, taking set three 25-19.
Schmaltz finished with a team-high seven kills, while Pitts added six. Tharrington dished out 14 assists and Allen contributed 19 digs.
Converse will be back in action on Friday, September 9 as it travels to Florence, S.C. to take part in the Francis Marion Tournament. The Valkyries will play host FMU at noon before facing Newberry at 8 p.m.