HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Freshman Morgan Pearson collected her first career double-double (15 kills/17digs) to help lead the Converse (1-3) volleyball team to its first win of the season, downing Winston-Salem State 3-1 at the concluding day of the FMU/Coker Invitational. The Valkyries fell to Catawba 3-0 in the early game before bouncing back with the statement win over the Rams.
GAME ONE: CONVERSE 0, CATAWBA 3
Elizabeth Yohe started the first frame with a service ace to give the Valkyries the lead, but seven straight points from the Indians pushed Catawba ahead 7-1 after the initial eight points. That advantage grew to 15-6 after CC doubled-up Converse 8-4. Alexis Pitts put a stop to the scoring run with a kill. However, Catawba poured it on late and took set one 25-17.
The first six points in set two were exchanged, but with the score even at 3-3, Catawba reeled off seven in a row to take the 10-3 advantage. Errors by the Indians attack game and a massive kill from Pitts closed the deficit to 11-6. That was as close as the Valkyries would get, dropping the second set 25-14 while going down in the match, 2-0.
Converse came out strong in set three, racing out to a 6-2 lead following back-to-back kills from Kaylee Owens and Lauren Tharrington. Catawba used a 7-1 run to gain the lead 9-7 and extended that lead to 19-13 late in the frame. The Vals battled and narrowed the margin to 19-15, but CC outscored the Purple and Gold 6-2 to take the set 25-17 and match, 3-0.
Kiara Cannon led the way offensively with six kills, while Pitts tallied five of her own. Owens contributed a season-high four kills. Sydney Allen registered 16 digs and Tharrington dished out 17 assists.
GAME TWO: CONVERSE 3, WINSTON-SALEM 1
The Valkyries came out in set one firing on all cylinders, jumping out to a 3-0 lead after back-to-back service aces from Lauren Tharrington and a dynamic kill by Morgan Pearson. WSSU gained its first point of the match, but Kiara Cannon demolished a ball into the floor to keep the Rams at a single point.
With the score at 5-3 in favor of the Purple and Gold, Converse scored three straight and 6 of 8 to push its lead to 11-5. Winston-Salem narrowed the deficit to 11-8 before Converse opened the game up with six in a row, gaining a 17-8 lead late. That margin ballooned to double-digits 22-12 and the Purple and Gold picked up its first set win of the year after Pearson collected the 25th point to down the Rams 25-15.
Three ties set the tone in the opening of set two. With the contest tied at 5-5, Converse ripped off three straight to push ahead 8-5, but WSSU battled back and tied the game at 8-all. From that point five more ties were in order as each team traded the first 28 points.
Winston-Salem pushed ahead 20-16 before four in a row from the Valkyries knotted the contest at 20-20. The next 10 points were traded and with the score at 25-25, Winston-Salem netted the next two to take the set 27-25 and tie the match 1-1.
Converse opened the third set with five straight to take the early lead and extended that advantage to 13-6. After WSSU connected on two points, Converse opened its biggest lead at 16-8 and continued to pour it on, capitalizing on Rams' mistakes and putting on a clinic at the service line en route to a double-digit mark, 23-13. Winston-Salem scored three in a row, but it was not enough as Converse closed the set with two in a row of its own, taking the set 25-16.
The pivotal fourth set was a back-and-forth affair as the two teams battled hard, trading the first 24 points (12-12). Winston-Salem opened a little breathing room with a 6-3 mini run (18-15), but Pearson punished a ball into the court to cap off a 5-0 run to help regain the lead for the Vals (20-18). Winston-Salem fought back to knot the set at 20-all. That was as close as it would be as Converse ripped off the next five points to finish the set 25-20 and the match, 3-1.
Pearson collected her first career double-double, pounding out a team-high 15 kills to go along with 17 digs. Pitts added nine digs and Yohe tallied seven kills and 15 digs. Sydney Allen collected a season-high 24 digs, while Tharrington and Jordan Mrkvicka dished out 20 and 15 assists, respectively. Tharrington narrowly missed a double-double as she turned in a Converse-record nine service aces. As a team the Valkyries recorded 16 total aces, good enough for 3rd all-time in the Converse history books.
Converse will be back in action on Friday, August 31 as it travels to Charlotte, N.C. to participate in the Queens Volleyball Fall Classic. The Valkyries will play host Queens at 12:45 p.m. before taking on Wingate at 5:15 p.m.