Boiling Springs, N.C. – Madison Haake’s third triple-double of the season, and second in as many matches, along with a career-best afternoon by Rebecca Shearer helped propel the USC Upstate volleyball team to a 3-1 (25-27, 25-20, 25-21, 25-23) victory over The Citadel Bulldogs Friday afternoon in the opening match of the AmericInn Runnin’ Bulldog Classic.
Upstate (5-0) has now won five matches in a row to begin the season and continues to improve on its best start in the Division I era. With the loss, The Citadel falls to 1-4 overall.
Haake recorded her second straight triple-double, and third in the first five matches, to lead the Spartans overall. The freshman recorded 12 kills, 15 assists and 14 digs while adding two service aces and one assisted block. Along with the triple-double by Haake, Upstate had two players contribute double-doubles in Emily Koelling and Lexi Gober. Koelling compiled 13 kills and 10 digs, and Gober added 33 assists and 13 digs. For the second straight match, Shearer set a new career-high in kills with 14 after posting a .243 hitting percentage.
Moriah Smith led the Bulldogs with a double-double of 17 kills and 13 digs, while Bailey Kernodle also finished with a double-double of 10 kills and 15 digs. Rachel Keefer dished out a game-high 38 assists and Samantha Espy led all players with 27 digs.
The Spartans got off to a slow start in the first set as The Citadel opened up on an 8-1 run off four Upstate attack errors. The Spartans answered back with a 14-6 run to take its first lead of the set, 15-14, following an attack error by Zuri Fenderson. Upstate extended its lead to 21-17 on another error by Henderson, and later sat at set point, 24-21, after Shearer and Koelling combined for a block. The Bulldogs rallied back to send the set into extra points after Koelling’s attack error put the score at 24-24. The Citadel scored three of the final four points to win the first set 27-25.
Shearer and Koelling totaled three kills in the opening five points as the Spartans led 4-1 to start the second set. The Bulldogs responded with an 8-1 run to go back in front on Megan Sowell’s service ace. Upstate trailed by as many as five midway through the frame as The Citadel held a 17-12 advantage. The Spartans came back to tie the score 18-18 highlighted by a pair of service aces from Yeargin. The Bulldogs committed four straight errors after that to give Upstate a 22-18 lead. Yeargin and Alexa Lagaly recorded the final two kills to give the Spartans the 25-20 win and even the match at 1-1.
The two teams split the opening 18 points of the third set and sat tied 9-9 following a service ace by Gober. The ace sparked an 11-4 run by Upstate to give it a 20-13 lead and end a stretch of four consecutive points. The Citadel got as close as 23-19 late, but Haake captured the set for the Spartans as her two kills made it 25-21.
The fourth set began in similar fashion as the third with the two teams trading the initial 20 points. Upstate did not trail during that sequence until the Bulldogs used a 10-2 run to go in front 20-12. The Spartans answered back in strong fashion by capturing 13 of the final 16 points to win the set 25-23 and the match 3-1. Shearer recorded two of her team-leading 14 kills in the final three plays to give Upstate the four-set victory.
The Spartans are back in action tomorrow during the final day of the AmericInn Runnin’ Bulldog Classic with a pair of matches starting at 10 a.m. against Southeast Missouri State. Upstate will then take on host Gardner-Webb at 7 p.m.