GREENWOOD – The Lander volleyball team shook off an early setback and won three consecutive sets to down Emmanuel 23-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-18 in a non-conference matchup on Halloween night in Finis Horne Arena that featured a record-setting performance from senior Reyonia Whipple. The Brunswick, Ga., native etched her name into the history books in the second set, passing Tarryn Angermeier to become the school’s all-time leader in career block assists. Whipple has tallied 381 blocks assists in her Bearcat career.
Lander held Emmanuel to a .145 hitting percentage and held a 62-52 advantage in kills.
“It was a great, hard-fought match tonight,” said head coach Ashley White. “We really needed to get that ‘w’ heading into the final round of conference play. We’ve got three big matches coming up in the next two weeks, so hopefully that’s going to propel us forward and really show the girls what they’re capable of doing.”
Hannah Hritz led all player with 19 kills, while Kirstin Martindale added 15. Whipple recorded nine kills, four digs, four block assists and a solo block on the night. Four different Bearcats recorded double-digit digs, led by 18 from Emma Efird. Sophia Perkins and Nell Copeland notched double-doubles with 30 and 20 assists, respectively, to go along with 10 digs each.
In a hotly contested opening set that featured 11 ties and five lead changes, a pair of attack errors from Lander (15-8) gave Emmanuel the early lead. Neither the Bearcats nor Lions every led by more than three points in the first set.
Trailing 23-20 and in danger of falling behind by two sets, the Bearcats rallied behind the play of Hritz. The freshman recorded back-to-back kills and teamed up with Imari Ashley for a block that evened the scored at 23-23. After the teams traded points, Hritz and Ashley put the set away with consecutive kills to tie the match.
After the Lions took a 9-6 lead in the third set, Lander rattled off five consecutive points to shift the momentum. The Bearcats never trailed the rest of the set and held off Emmanuel (16-10) to take a 2-1 lead.
A pair of service aces from Martindale punctuated a 5-0 opening run for Lander in the fourth set and the Bearcats closed the match with back-to-back kills from Martindale and a match-winning kill from Whipple to clinch the victory.
Lander returns to Peach Belt Conference action on Friday morning for an 11:00 a.m. match at Flagler.