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Volleyball battles to five-set victory against Berry

Meredith Lee (photo by Jimmy Mitchell)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—The Birmingham-Southern volleyball team fought to a 3-2 win against league-leading Berry College, Saturday afternoon in Bill Battle Coliseum.

The Panthers move to 13-4 overall and 3-3 in the Southern Athletic Association, while the Vikings fall to 11-4 overall and 5-1 in the SAA in their first conference loss.

BSC scored the first two points of the first set and would never trail. The Panthers led 13-11 before using a six-point run to pull up 19-11, and eventually won 25-18 on a service ace by junior Meredith Lee.

The Vikings responded in the second set by going up 6-2 early, but BSC battled back to tie it up 8-8 and then used a 10-3 run to take an 18-11 lead. Berry responded in kind, using a 7-1 run to cut it to 19-18, but the Panthers scored three more in a row to pull ahead 22-18, prompting a Berry timeout. The Vikings took over after that, using another 7-1 run to win 25-23 on a kill by Kelly Lochstampfor and tie the match at 1-1.

The third set was much more back-and-forth than the first two, with neither team leading by more than three at any point, as well as 11 lead changes and 11 ties. After the 11th and final tie of the game, 22-22, BSC was able to out-score Berry 3-1 to win 25-23 on a kill by freshman Laura van Peursem, pulling ahead in the match 2-1.

Berry took command of the fourth set, pulling ahead quickly to go up 10-2 and then 20-8. The Panthers attempted to rally, using a 9-3 run to cut it to 23-17, but the Vikings got the final two points on kills by Anna Keappler and Lochstampfor, winning 25-17 to send the match to set five.

The Vikings opened the fifth set by scoring the first two points and then led 7-4 to prompt a BSC timeout. After that, the Panthers battled to take the lead, using an 8-2 run to go up 12-9. The teams exchanged points, and Berry cut it to 13-12, but the Panthers clinched the victory with the final two points, both a result of Viking errors, to win 15-12.

"Our kids played their hearts out today," Head Coach Judy Green said. "They stuck with the game plan and just got it done. They deserve all the credit."

Three different Panthers had double-digit kills, led by senior Alex Bothe with 17, followed by Lee with 12 and van Peursem and junior Kathleen Pfitzer with 10 apiece. Bothe and Lee also both had double-doubles—the fourth of the season for Bothe (12 digs) and fifth for Lee (21 digs). Sophomore setter Emily Dang recorded 30 assists, while sophomore Katie McCormack had 23, and sophomore libero Lauren Bedford was impressive with 30 digs. Junior Katie O'Bar led at the net with five blocks.

Katie O'Rourke led Berry with 17 kills, followed by Lochstampfor with 16 and Emily Stromberg with 12. Setter Stephanie Quinn had 47 assists, and five different Vikings had double-digit digs, led by Keappler with 23. Stromberg and Lochstampfor also both had double-doubles with 14 and 11 digs, respectively.

The Panthers are at home again tomorrow, continuing conference action against Oglethorpe at 1 p.m. in Bill Battle Coliseum.