WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Sophomore Kelsey Buckner (San Marino, Calif./San Marino HS) led the way with 10 kills and eight digs, and the trio of Ashley Ahearn (Marshfield/Marshfield HS) Grace Conner (Santa Barbara, Calif./San Marcos HS) and Emily Garcia (Gardnerville, Nev./Douglas HS) combined for 25 kills and only one error, as the Bentley University women's volleyball team topped Claflin University in three Friday evening at Palm Beach Atlantic's Pepsi Bash at the Beach.
The 25-19, 25-20, 25-18 victory was the fifth in the last seven matches for the Falcons, with one of those losses coming earlier Friday in the tournament. Lincoln Memorial University bested Bentley 25-13, 25-16, 25-19 to improve to 13-5 on the year.
Bentley (7-10) had its best hitting match of the season by far against Claflin, swinging at a .353 success rate. Conner, a senior co-captain, hit .474 with nine kills and no errors. Garcia, a sophomore, put down eight for a .533 percentage and also was errorless. Ahearn, a junior, hit .438 and recorded a season-best eight kills with one error.
Bentley, up by just one at 19-18, tallied six of the final seven points in the opening set, with most of those recorded while sophomore libero Lauren Colasanti (Northville, Mich./Northville HS) was serving. Four of the six points came via Panther attack errors, and Ahearn tallied five kills in the set.
The Falcons overcame early four-point deficits in the next two sets, coming back from 12-8 in the second and from 9-5 in the third. The second-set hole was erased by seven straight points, including two Buckner kills and an ace from freshman setter Kyana Miller (San Diego, Calif./Canyon Crest Acad.). Bentley used a 12-3 run to take control of the final set, with Buckner providing three kills during the spurt.
Miller gave Bentley 35 assists, three kills and two aces, and Colasanti led the defense with 12 kills.
In the Lincoln Memorial match, Bentley's only lead came at 1-0 in the middle set. The Railsplitters countered with four straight points and finished the set with a 10-4 run after Bentley drew within three at 15-12.
Lincoln Memorial hit .347 as a team with senior Blaine Fowler (Fort Worth, Texas) leading the way at .529 with a team-best nine kills and no errors in 17 attacks.
Serving both ways hurt the Falcons against the Tennessee university with LMU recording seven aces and Bentley committing 11 serving errors.
Freshman Jessica Segal (West Harrison, N.Y./Harrison HS) had 12 digs and both aces for Bentley, and Colasanti also made 12 digs.
The tournament continues Saturday with Bentley facing Barry University at 10 am and the host team at 4 pm.