BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - Senior Caity Merritt hammered home a career-high 29 kills, but it wasn't enough, as Cumberlands (Ky.) outlasted the Bulldogs in a five set marathon (28-30, 28-26, 27-25, 20-25, 18-16) on Thursday evening at Robsion Arena.
With the defeat, Union fell to 14-6 overall, as the loss snapped a four-match winning streak. Cumberlands improved to 12-6 with the victory.
Things were exciting from the start in the contest, as the first set went into extras after both teams seesawed back-and-forth with the lead over the duration of the set. With things all tied up at 28-all, Union finally took control, winning the first set 30-28 as Paige Moore clinched the victory with a kill.
In the second set, Cumberlands stormed back from an early 15-10 deficit to once again tie the match at 25-25 to end it to another tie-break. This time, the Patriots were victorious, taking three straight points after Union took a 26-25 lead on a Merritt kill.
It was more of the same in the third set, as Cumberlands once again rallied past the Bulldogs in a tie-break, winning 27-25 to take the lead overall in the contest, two sets to one.
In the fourth set, Union rallied back to take a 25-20 win in the only set on the night that did not go to a tie-break. After things were tied at 11-11 early, the Bulldogs went on a 14-9 run to send things to a fifth and decisive set, as Moore clinched things with a service ace.
Things got off to a great start for the Bulldogs in the fifth set, as Union opened a 6-3 lead, prompting a Cumberlands timeout. The Patriots, however, came back, tying things up at 10-10, causing Union to call a timeout.
After taking a 13-12 lead, Union went up by two after another kill by Moore, and were one point away from taking the set and match. However, Cumberlands roared back once again, winning three points in a row to take a 15-14 lead.
After the lead went back and forth, the match was tied up at 16-16, where Cumberlands put things away with back-to-back points, taking the five set thriller over the Bulldogs.
By the Numbers
- Merritt and Moore were dominant on the attack for Union, combining for 53 of the Bulldogs' 74 kills in the match.
- Merritt's 29 kill total shattered her previous career-high of 19 set in a match against Virginia Intermont last season. The senior fell just two kills short of matching the school record in a match of 31.
- Moore's 24 kill night also set a career-high in the kill department, as well, besting a previous mark of 20 set last season vs. Columbia (S.C.).
- Setting up the duo all night was Heather Fields, who ended the night with a career-best 71 assists.
- Defensively, Ana Calaza registered 39 digs, a season best. Up front, Julia Edmonds had seven total blocks, two of which were of the solo variety.
Union stays out-of-conference on Saturday, traveling to Kentucky Christian. First serve is set for 12 p.m.