Seniors Cloninger, Martinez Shine in Conference Carolinas Volleyball Semifinal

Seniors Cloninger, Martinez Shine in Conference Carolinas Volleyball Semifinal

WILSON, N.C. -- Senior Aimee Cloninger led three players with double-figure kills with 14 and added 10 digs for her seventh double-double, but the No. 2 North-seed Belmont Abbey was unable to pull the upset over No. 1 South Erskine Saturday in the semifinals of the Conference Carolinas Volleyball Championship. The final score was 3-1 with set scores of 23-25, 25-18, 25-14, 26-24.

Hannah Dubas and Mackenzie Chrapliwy had 10 kills each, while senior Gabby Martinez (22) and Cassidy Bonito (21) combined for 43 assists. Sarah Kenney led the defensive effort with 20 digs.

Belmont Abbey used a late rally to take the opening set 25-23, scoring the final four points after trailing 23-21. Earlier, the Crusaders broke a 9-9 tie with three straight points, but the Flying Fleet answered with the same to even the game at 12. After each team added a point, BAC rattled off four in a row for a 17-13 advantage, but Erskine repeated the feat for a 17-17 tie. The Crusaders broke the deadlock, but three straight for EC set up the Abbey's late heroics.

The Crusaders led 14-13 in the second set, but surrendered four straight points that started a 6-1 run. Belmont Abbey closed to wthin 20-17, but another 4-0 run led to a 25-18 Erskine win. The momentum stayed with the Flying Fleet as it opened the third with leads of 3-0 and 7-2. After a kill by Henriott, Erskine rattled off six straight to open a double-digit margin, 13-3.

Belmont Abbey led 9-7 in the fourth, but another run lifted the Flying Fleet. Erskine scored five straight points to open a 12-9 lead. The Crusaders would not give up, tallying four of the next five scores for a 13-13 tie and would later take leads of 15-14, 16-15 and 17-16. Trailing 19-18, Belmont Abbey tallied three in a row and then led 23-21, but Erskine gained three straight points for its first match point. The Crusaders saved one, but the Flying Fleet got a block and a kill to advance, 26-24.

Belmont Abbey finishes its season at 19-13, finishing second in the North Division after being picked seventh overall in the preseason poll.