Clarksville, TN – As typical of a four versus five-seed match, Eastern Kentucky survived a five-set thriller versus Belmont, November 16th in the Dunn Center, 25-18, 25-18, 17-25, 20-25, 16-14.
The fourth-seeded Colonels (13-18) looked to put the fifth set way early, jumping out to a 4-1 advantage over the Bruins (14-15), but Belmont rattled off three straight points to tie the set, 4-4.
The two teams would then trade the next 12 points, with the deciding set still tied 10-10 after the first 20 points.
Belmont then looked like it had control of the final set, running off four straight points to get to match point, 14-10, but EKU would closeout the set and the match by scoring the final six points of the contest for the 16-14 victory to take the match three games to two.
The Colonels looked to make quick work of the Bruins by winning the opening two sets, going wire-to-wire in set one after scoring the first two points, with Belmont only tying the set once, 2-2, on a kill by Maggie Mullins.
The Colonels would follow by scoring the next three points, including kills by Cassie Knutson and Kaylin Johnson to go up three, 5-2.
It would stay a two-or-three-point contest for the next eight points, with EKU holding an 8-6 advantage.
But the Colonels would start building their lead after that, Eastern Kentucky going on an 6-0 run to extent its lead out to 14-6, with Nikki Drost picking up three kills during the run before the Bruins ended the run with a kill by Arianna Person.
The Colonels would get the momentum right back building their largest lead of the set, 10 points, at 19-9 on a Belmont attack error.
The Bruins would put together a mini three-point run to cut the EKU lead to seven, but Eastern Kentucky answered right back with a three-point run and Belmont never got any closer than six points the rest of the way, with EKU taking the opening set, 25-18.
Set two saw the two teams battle back-and-fourth early-on, with four ties in the game’s first eight points, with the last time coming at 4-4 following a kill by Belmont’s Jessica Vestal.
But Eastern Kentucky would start to show its dominance behind the four kills from Knutson in scoring eight of the next 10 points to go up 12-6.
Belmont would try to rally, getting to within two points, 18-16, after a kill by Arianna Person, but that would be as close as they would get the rest of the way in the set, with EKU scoring seven of the final nine points – including the final five of the set – to come away with a 25-18 win and a 2-0 lead in the match.
Eastern Kentucky would try to mount a comeback, scoring the next four points to cut the Belmont lead down to one point, 12-11 on a kill by Celina Sanks.
But Belmont won’t let this lead get away, going on a 9-2 run, including three kills by Brie Lewis to back up seven, 21-14, with EKU never getting closer than five points after that before the Bruins got set three 25-17 to make the match 2-1 EKU.
Set four would see the two teams battle evenly over the first 14 points, but Belmont would carry the momentum it earned in the third-set victory slowly build a four-point lead, 15-11, with Eastern Kentucky never getting closer than two points the rest of the set, before Belmont leveled the match two games each with the 25-20 set victory.
The Colonels will now face the winner of the final quarterfinal match between top-seeded Austin Peay and eighth-seed Southeast Missouri, Friday, November 17th, 5:00pm at the Dunn Center.