BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Aimee Cloninger had 12 kills and Alexandra Henriotta added nine kills against one error, but it was not enough as King squeaked past Belmont Abbey 3-0 (26-24, 25-20, 25-20) Tuesday night in the Carolinas Conference volleyball opener for both teams. The Tornado outhit the Crusaders .303 to .161 and held a 47-39 advantage in digs during the match.
Belmont Abbey (1-8, 0-1) trailed 10-6 in the opening set before Gabby Martinez served the Crusaders into five straight points and an 11-10 lead. The Abbey trailed 13-12 when it tallied three in a row to make the score 15-13, but King (1-6, 1-0) evened the score with back-to-back points. The teams continued to trade points to ties at 16, 18 and 22 before the first of three set points for King. The Crusaders tied the match at 25 and went ahead 26-25 for a set point of their own, but the Tornado rattled off three straight for the 28-26 win. It marked the ninth time in 31 sets this year that extra points were needed.
Belmont Abbey started the second with three of the first four points, but King later broke a 4-4 tie with three in a row. The teams battled back and forth until the Tornado scored five straight to turn a 15-14 lead into 20-14. The Crusaders tried to rally, closing to within 22-18, but a costly service error led to a 25-20 final for the set.
The third set started equally as tight, with the score tied at 6 before an 8-3 King run gave them the lead for good. Belmont Abbey tried to rally, scoring three straight points to close a 15-10 gap to 15-13, but the Tornado answered with three points of its own to move back ahead by five. The Crusaders fought off two match points before another 25-10 setback.
After nine straight road matches to open the season, Belmont Abbey begins its home schedule this weekend when it welcomes Southern Wesleyan and North Greenville to the Wheeler Center Friday night and Saturday afternoon.