BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Claflin University volleyball team battled from two sets down and held off several match points en route to upsetting LeMoyne-Owen 3-2 in the opening round of the 2017 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Championships on Wednesday.
But, in the evening games, Claflin lost to Albany State by the same 3-2 count.
Claflin will now play Benedict College at 11 a.m. on Thursday (Nov. 15), in an elimination match.
The Lady Panthers won against LeMoyne-Owen with set scores of 23-25, 25-20, 18-25, 27-25 and 18-16.
LeMoyne-Owen entered the championships as the No. 1 seed in the West Division, while Claflin entered as the No. 4 seed in the East Division of the conference.
The double-elimination tournament will culminate with the championship match on Friday at 2 p.m. with an if-necessary game at 5 p.m. on Friday.
Claflin (8-19) had three players to finish with double-digit kills. Leading the way was senior Ashleigh Green who finished with 19 kills. Junior Jamie Dobson and graduate transfer Diara Lewis also had double-digit kills finishing with 15 and 13, respectively.
Junior Jhi Piper-Murles picked up a match-high 22 digs for Claflin, who had four players to finish with double-digit digs.
Lewis and senior Alycia Perez-Johnson each had 14 and freshman Chania Rispress had 12 digs in the match.
Rispress ran an effective offense putting up a match-high 60 set assists.
“It feels good to get my first-ever win at the tournament,” Claflin head coach Mary Rotimi said. “It makes me feel like all the hard work we put in is starting to show and the other teams are starting to see it.
"They now have to adjust the way they play us.”
The Lady Panthers defense was equally as solid at the net, putting down a total of 10 team blocks. Rispress led the way with six total blocks (1 solo-5 assists) and sophomore Jewel Moody had five (1 solo-4 assists).
Freshman Jala Roberts and Moody put down nine kills while junior Kiana Ware picked up eight digs from her back row position in the victory.
LeMoyne-Owen (20-10) was led by Jasmine Davis with 22 kills. Jakaya Brawley and Tayler Phillips had 13 and 10 kills, respectively while Kamiah Yancy led the team defensively with 17 digs.
Against Albany State, Claflin lost a 2-set lead, with ASU winning by set scores of 17-25, 24-26, 25-23, 25-20 and 15-7.
Green had 12 kills to lead Claflin in the contest. Lewis had 11 kills and Roberts added 10 in the loss.
Rispress put up 37 set assists while Lewis, picked up 20 digs to lead the team defensively.
Piper-Murles picked up 19 digs while Dobson added four block assists in the match.
Justice Howard had 18 kills and Brittianni Phillips added 17 kills in the victory for Albany State, which improved to an 18-10 record.
The double-elimination tournament will culminate with the championship match on Friday at 3 p.m. with an if-necessary game at 6 p.m. on Friday.