The Oglethorpe volleyball team built a 2-0 lead over the homestanding Centre Colonels Sunday afternoon in Danville, Kentucky, but saw the home side bounce back to take the final three sets of the match and win 3-2. It marked the second time this season that Centre pulled that feat on the Stormy Petrels and it came less than 24 hours after Oglethorpe had accomplished the same feat against Sewanee. The loss dropped the Petrels to 8-11 on the season overall and 2-8 in SAA play.
The match got off to a fantastic start for the Petrels, as they outscored Centre 7-2 to open the first set. The Colonels responded with a 7-2 run of their own, though, and tied the score at 9-9. The home side then continued that spurt and pushed out into a 14-12 lead. In all, Centre's run totaled 12-5. The visitors answered back in a huge way, though, scoring 10 straight points to take control of the set, 22-14. Five straight Centre points brought them to within three, 22-19, but the Petrels were able to finish off the set, 25-20.
The second set proved the most hotly contested of the match. The Petrels jumped out to an early 6-0 lead, but Centre responded with a 10-3 run to pull ahead, 10-9. Three straight Oglethorpe points gave them a 12-10 edge, but the Colonels responded with six straight to take a 17-13 lead. The Colonels eventually built a 20-15 advantage, but the Petrels stormed back with six straight points to suddenly take a 21-20 lead of their own. The two teams traded points a couple of times and the Petrels had a 24-23 lead and set point. Centre answered back to tie the score, but the Petrels responded with back-to-back points to close out the set, winning it 26-24.
The comeback victory in the second set put the Petrels up 2-0, but Centre came back in the third with an impressive performance, building a 19-4 lead and riding it to a 25-6 victory in the stanza.
The fourth set went back and forth early, with Centre taking a 4-2 lead before the Petrels answered to pull ahead 8-5. A 9-1 Colonel run gave them control of the set, though, and they vaulted into a 16-9 advantage. The Petrels responded with three straight points to cut it to 16-12, but four straight Centre points made it 22-14. Oglethorpe came back with a 4-1 run, but Centre eventually closed the set 25-19, forcing a fifth.
The two teams traded points to begin the decisive frame, but Centre built an 8-4 lead. The Petrels responded with a big 5-1 spurt to tie the score, 9-9. The visitors came back again, from two down this time, to tie it again at 12-apiece, but the home side finished off three straight points from there, putting the match away with a 15-12 victory in the final set.
Sophomore right-side hitter Ashlee Tolbert led the way for the Petrels with 11 kills on the afternoon while also tallying five block assists. Freshman defensive specialist Taryn North recorded three service aces while also pulling 12 digs. Meanwhile, junior setter Jordan Jones led all participants with 31 assists on the afternoon.
"The lesson to be learned from today's match is that you have to take advantage of opportunities when you get them," said Oglethorpe head coach Richie Tang. "I thought we did a great job coming back in the second set, but we have to be able to close out matches better. Credit goes to Centre for again fighting back from two sets down."
The Petrels will now return to Atlanta, where they'll travel across town for a tri-match on Tuesday. They'll go against No. 6 Emory and Agnes Scott beginning at 4 p.m. from Emory's campus in Atlanta's Druid Hills neighborhood. After that, they'll return to Dorough Field House for the final eight matches of the regular season.