Mishawaka, Ind. – The Bethel Pilots women’s volleyball squad extended their winning streak to four straight matches on Wedneday evening, downing crosstown rival IU South Bend 25-19, 25-23, 24-26, 25-21. The win puts the Pilots two games above .500 for the first time since October 31, 2015.
The Pilots never trailed in the first set, jumping out to a slim 5-3 margin on a kill by Kassandra Williams (JR/Lafayette, Ind.). They continued to increase their advantage to 13-8 on a service ace by Abby Armold (FR/Valparaiso, Ind.). IU South Bend would not be denied however, pulling to within 16-14, until a string of Titan service errors, combined with a Malerie Mech (SO/Valparaiso, Ind.) kill put the Pilots on top 21-16. Kristen Mitchell (JR/Indianapolis, Ind.) put the Titans away in the first set to give the Pilots the 25-19 advantage.
The Titans came out firing in the second set, jumping out to a quick 8-3 advantage, forcing a Pilot timeout. The Pilots responded with five straight points on services by Katie Easter (JR/Logansport, Ind.), leadimg to a Titan timeout. The game of runs continued with the visitors jumping back out in front 16-11. After going back-and-forth, a kill by Haley Brown (SR/Goshen, Ind.) pulled the Pilots to within 23-22. With Erin Carlos (SR/Millersburg, Ind.) serving, the Pilots secured the second set win 25-23 in a gritty effort.
Winners of 11 of their last 13 sets played, the Pilots looked to finish off the Titans in straight sets. However, IU South Bend did not cooperate. Never more than two points apart the whole set, save for one instance, the Titans pulled away for the 26-24 third set win. Brown notched four kills in the effort for the Pilots.
Armold and the Pilots came out strong in the fourth set, with the freshman from Valparaiso adding a service ace and a kill to take a 7-3 lead. Brown continued to put pressure on the Titan defense with multiple kills to extend the Pilot advantage to 14-6. The Titans mounted a comeback on several Pilot miscues to pull back to within 15-13. Coming out of a Pilot timeout, Armold and Bridget Downs (SO/Lexington, Ky.) scored multiple points to take the lead back to 20-15 for the hosts. Another run by the Titans got them to within 22-21, but the Pilots finished off the match with kills by Armold and Brown to take the 25-21 fourth set victory.
Haley Brown continued to wreak havoc on opposing defenses with a match-leading 11 kills. Abby Armold added three service aces, while Erin Carlos paced the match with 24 digs. Bridget Downs added 12 digs of her own while Payton Anderson (JR/New Castle, Ind.) and Katie Easter tallied 13 and 10 assists, respectively.
“Blocking was key for us tonight,” said Head Coach Katie Weiss. “We needed to shut down their big hitters, and I think we did a good job of that. Abby Armold, Kassandra Williams, and Kristen Mitchell all had four blocks for the night.”
The Pilots return to action this weeked as they travel to Chicago and Palos Heights, Illinois to take part in the St. Xavier/Trinity Christian Crossover.