AIKEN, S.C. – The Lander volleyball team earned a win over Carson-Newman before falling to West Alabama on day one of the USC Aiken Invitational. The Bearcats defeated the Eagles 22-25, 27-25, 15-25, 25-18, 15-10, while losing to the Tigers 20-25, 25-27, 17-25.
Lander (8-2) was in danger of falling behind 2-0 to Carson-Newman (3-2) as it trailed 22-15 in the second set before a 5-0 run pulled the Bearcats within two points. Carson-Newman responded and faced set point at 24-21, but the Bearcats used a Kaitlyn Krafka kill and a pair of Eagle errors to tie the score. The Eagles scored to reclaim the lead, but committed three consecutive errors as Lander rallied to win the set.
After Carson-Newman took the third set, Lander used an 8-2 run in set four to break a 4-4 tie and take control, tying the match at 2-2 on a kill from Reilly Kuenstler. The Bearcats held a 12-10 lead in the deciding set and surged ahead with a kill from Imari Ashley and an Eagle error before another kill from Krafka gave Lander its seventh consecutive win.
Krafka tied a career-high with 16 kills and added a career-high 26 digs, while Madilyn Reed posted 37 assists and tied her own career-high with 14 digs. Hannah McManus led the Bearcats with 37 digs, while Kuenstler and Hannah Hritz each finished with 10 kills.
Against West Alabama, Lander led 19-18 before the Tigers closed the first set with a 7-1 run to move ahead. The two teams fought back and forth in the second set, tying at 22-22 before alternating six consecutive points. With the set tied at 25-25, West Alabama used back-to-back kills to take a 2-0 lead. The Tigers took control of the third set early with an 8-1 run to break a 4-4 tie, winning the set 25-17.
Krafka posted another double-double with 11 kills and 12 digs. Reed tallied 27 assists and nine digs, while Kyra Ross also finished with nine digs.
Lander will be back in action tomorrow with a 10:00 a.m. match against Barton and a 4:30 p.m. tilt against Queens.