Sep. 11—VALDOSTA, Ga. — The UNC Pembroke volleyball team had its midweek momentum quelled on Friday afternoon on at the Valdosta State Invitational as the Braves dropped straight-set matches to both Saint Leo (21-25, 20-25, 23-25) and Eckerd (24-26, 22-25, 17-25) to open the two-day tournament.
The loss to the Lions (2-3) snapped a two-match win streak for the Braves (4-4) who swept through both Newberry and Winston-Salem State on Tuesday in Pembroke. It was the first-ever matchup for the Black & Gold against Saint Leo, while Eckerd (5-1) has captured all six matchups in the all-time series with the Braves. Friday evening's triumph was the fourth-straight victory of the 2021 campaign for the Tritons whose only setback this season came at the hands of then-No. 6 Lewis.
The Braves will close out action at the Valdosta State Invitational with a pair of matchups on Saturday. UNCP will take on the host-Blazers (3-4) in an 11 a.m. contest, before concluding its stay in Valdosta with a 3 p.m. contest against Albany State (1-3).
UNCP vs. Saint Leo
UNCP led the first set 18-17 before Saint Leo closed the set with an 8-2 run for the 25-21 victory.
In the second set, UNCP's early six-point deficit was too much to overcome in a 25-20 defeat.
UNCP made nine attack errors in the third set, before a late rally fell short in a 25-23 set loss to clinch the match for Saint Leo.
Shannon Skyrd had 10 kills and Erin O'Donnell had seven for the Braves. Katie Pressley had 18 assists and Morgan Gibbs had 10. Elise Martin had nine digs and four service aces and Brainna Warren had five blocks.
UNCP vs. Eckerd
In a nailbiter opening set, the Braves logged a trio of service aces and 15 kills, but the Tritons' late rally took the set 26-24.
The back-and-forth nature of the match continued in the second set, with the Tritons leading 12-9 before the Braves came back to lead 22-21. Eckerd answered with four straight points for the 25-22 win.
The third set was more one-sided, with the Tritons hitting .323 to close out the match with a 25-17 win. A 7-1 run after UNCP had closed to 13-12 all but sealed the outcome in Eckerd's favor.
O'Donnell had 12 kills and Kaila Crowder had 11 in the nightcap for UNCP. Gibbs had 20 assists and Skyrd and Martin each had eight digs.