The Oglethorpe volleyball team earned their first two victories of the season Sunday afternoon in Danville, Kentucky, as they defeated Centre and Huntingdon in a pair of 5-set matches. The Stormy Petrels took the first match against Centre 25-17, 17-25, 25-15, 14-25, 15-13, then took the match against Huntingdon by the score of 23-25, 27-25, 25-27, 25-19, 20-18. The victories improved the Petrels to 2-9 on the season, 1-2 in SAA play.
In the day's opening match against Centre, the Petrels got off to an excellent start in their quest for their first win of the season. They responded to an early 6-5 Centre lead with a 7-1 run, giving themselves a 12-7 advantage. The home side used a 6-2 stretch to pull to within a point, 14-13, and traded points for awhile after that, but Oglethorpe ended the stanza on an 8-1 run to close it out, 25-17.
The Colonels responded with a 25-17 victory of their own in the second set, but the visitors came back with a vengeance in the third. They took a 5-2 lead early, then after Centre tied it 7-7, the Petrels embarked on an 18-8 stretch for the rest of the stanza, running away with it, 25-15, and pulling to within a single set of closing down the match. Centre responded by running away with the fourth set, though, winning it 25-14 and setting up the all important fifth set.
After winning the first two points of the set, Oglethorpe saw Centre go on a 4-0 run to take a 6-3 lead in the first-to-15 set. After trading points for a bit, Centre still led 10-8, but the Petrels went on a stretch of four straight points to edge ahead, 12-10. A pair of kills from senior middle hitter Ashlee Tolbert brought the Petrels a match point, as they took a 14-12 lead. The Colonels staved it off once, but sophomore outside hitter Jacoby Sims finished it off on the next point, giving Oglethorpe a 15-13 win in the set and a 3-2 victory overall.
Junior outside hitter Brianna Chin led the team with 17 kills and tied for the team lead with 10 digs for the match. Sims added 14 kills and 10 digs of her own, while freshman setters Grace Holder and Emma Williams combined for 46 assists. Holder collected 25 and Williams 21.
The second match of the day got off to an extremely competitive start. Huntingdon got off to a 13-5 lead at the outset, but the Petrels responded with a 9-3 run to get right back in it, 16-14. The two teams traded points back and forth for the rest of the set, but the Hawks attained a 23-20 lead late and then earned a set point at 24-22. The Petrels staved it off for a point, but Huntingdon took the set, 25-23.
The Hawks again got off to a big lead in the second set, starting the stanza on an 8-1 run. The Petrels quickly cut that down to 11-9, though. A 4-1 stretch put Huntingdon back up 15-10, but the Petrels again responded with an 8-3 push to tie the score, 18-18. The Hawks pushed back out to a 24-22 advantage, earning set point and going on the verge of a 2-set lead. However, the Petrels ran off five of the next six points to flip the script and give Huntingdon a 27-25 loss, tying the match at a set apiece.
It was Oglethorpe who took an early lead in the third set, pushing out to a 9-5 advantage. Huntingdon came back with five straight points to take a 10-9 lead, but Oglethorpe responded with four in a row to build a 17-13 advantage. Five straight points by the Hawks gave them a 19-18 lead, but the Petrels responded with four straight to take a 22-19 lead. The Petrels earned a set point at 24-22, but in a mirror image of the second set, Huntingdon turned it around to take the stanza, 27-25, and take a 2-1 lead.
Oglethorpe used a big run to take a 14-7 lead in the fourth, then held on from there to force a fifth set, 25-19. In that fifth, Huntingdon took a 4-2 lead, but Oglethorpe responded with a 5-1 run to take a 7-5 lead. The Petrels eventually gained match point at 14-13, but the Hawks came back to flip it, 15-14. Each team earned match point once more but failed to close it out, then the Petrels went up 19-18. Sims stepped to the line and delivered a service ace to close it out, 20-18.
Sims led all performers with 20 kills, while Williams and freshman outside hitter Emilee Etter added 10 each. Etter hit .381 for the match. Holder passed out 27 assists, while Williams recorded 26. Tolbert finished with 5 total blocks.
The Petrels will be back in action on Thursday, when they head home to take on Huntingdon again in their home opener at 8 p.m. After that, they'll host Birminghan-Southern and Millsaps in SAA play over the weekend.