FLORENCE, S.C. – Converse Volleyball opened the season with a pair of losses in the opening day of the Coker/FMU Invitational on Friday, August 24. The Valkyries took on Indianapolis in the early game before squaring off with UNC Pembroke in the nightcap, dropping both matches by the final of 3-0.
GAME ONE: CONVERSE 0, UINDY 3
Indy opened the first set with five of six points to take the early 5-1 advantage. A huge kill by Elizabeth Yohe cut the score to 5-2, but the Greyhounds used a 4-1 spurt to push out to a 9-3 lead. Back-to-back service aces by Indy's Katie Voelz pushed the lead to double-digits (14-4), forcing a stoppage in action by the Valkyries. A quick 3-1 mini run by the Vals trimmed the deficit to 15-7 midway through the opening set.
Morgan Pearson did her best to keep Converse in the set, earning the next five kills for the Vals, but it was too little, too late as Indianapolis took a 1-0 match lead with a 25-15 set win.
Indy started set two like the first, jumping out to a 3-1 lead before Pearson drilled a ball to the floor to bring the Valkyries to within a single point early in the second frame. That one-point lead followed the Greyhounds to the score of 10-9, but a 14-4 run ballooned the advantage to 24-13 in favor of UIndy. Kelsey Elliott smashed a kill to record a point for the Purple and Gold, but from that point it was all academic as Emily Ellis garnered the final point of the set for UI, putting the Greyhounds ahead 2-0.
Set three had a very different feel as Converse came out the gate the aggressor, racing out to a 5-2 lead following an attack error by Indy's Julia Kruzan. The contest then went into a seesaw affair as neither team could gain an offensive advantage. With the score knotted at 9-all, Indy gained separation with five straight and 10 of the next 13 points, pushing the margin to 19-12.
However, Converse did not go quietly, snapping off an 8-2 run, capped off by a kill from Yohe, to trim the deficit to 21-20. Unfortunately, that would be the closest the Valkyries climbed to as Indy finished the third set with a 4-2 scoring mark, taking the set and match.
Pearson led the charge with a team-high eight kills, while Kiara Cannon added six kills, hitting .426, in the effort. Yohe anchored the defense with 11 digs and Lauren Tharrington dished out 15 assists.
GAME TWO: CONVERSE 0, UNC PEMBROKE 3
Set one was very competitive, seeing five ties and two lead changes over the initial 14 points. However, with the frame deadlocked at 7-all, UNC Pembroke used a 13-0 run to blow the game wide open and eventually took the opening set by the final of 25-16.
Morgan Pearson leveled a ball to the floor in the beginning of the second frame to give Converse a 3-1 lead early. The Braves reeled off two straight to knot the contest, but a kill by Kiara Cannon followed by an error in the Braves' attack game pushed the Vals back ahead by the two-point advantage. UNCP then used a 6-1 run to take a 9-6 lead halfway through the set.
That advantage extended to six points (15-9) before Converse ripped off an impressive 8-2 spurt to even the set at 17. Pembroke took five of the next six scores to race back out 22-18 late. Another mental mistake by the Braves allowed the Valkyries to pull within 22-20, but UNCP closed the set on a 3-1 run to take a commanding 2-0 match lead.
Set three mirrored the second as the first 18 points were exchanged. With the score locked at 9-9, the Braves used another run, this time 4-0, to take the 13-9 advantage. That score ballooned to 18-12 before Converse, behind errors from the Braves, closed the deficit to 18-15. That would be as close as the Vals would get as Pembroke outscored the Purple and Gold 7-6 down the stretch to close the set, 25-18, and match, 3-0.
The Valkyries will wrap-up the Coker/FMU Invitational tomorrow morning, taking on Catawba at 11 a.m. in Hartsville, S.C. on the campus of Coker College, before returning to Florence to take on Winston-Salem State at 5 p.m.