Dayton, Tenn. – The Bryan College Lions Volleyball Team nabbed their first win of the 2017 season in thrilling fashion as they took to the court for the first time in the third annual Bryan Bash, which is a two-day event hosted by the Lions and showcases talent from The Sun Conference, River States Conference, Mid-South Conference, Southern States Athletic Conference, and Appalachian Athletic Conference.
The Lions showed consistency to start the match, gaining a quick 2-0 lead over Southern States foe Bethel University (Tenn.) with 25-19 wins in both sets. The third set was the game changer for the Wildcats as they turned a 14-7 deficit into a 17-17 tie after rallying from behind. The momentum was too tough to stop as Bethel surged ahead for a 25-21 third-set victory, bringing the score to 2-1 still in Bryan's favor.
Once again, the Lions controlled the lead midway through the set at 13-9, but the Wildcats dug deep and tied the score 13-13 before taking over and keeping separation for a 25-18 ending in the fourth set.
With the score evened up at 2-2, Bryan looked in trouble down 10-5 in the fifth set. Slowly but surely the Lions clawed their way to a 6-1 run to tie the score at 11 apiece. Bethel struggled to maintain composure as Bryan's junior outside hitter Mariah Dunlop (JR/Bradenton, Fla. ) served a dagger ace that put the Lions ahead 12-11. The Wildcats managed to stay poised and answered to level the score 12-12 and then 13-13, but blocks by Brooke Stowell (SR/Knoxville, Tenn.) and Anna Owens (FR/Thompsons Station, Tenn.) helped seal the deal 15-13 for a 3-2 final and give Bryan a 1-0 start to the season.
As a team, Bethel led in the kill's column 50-40 and got the edge in attack percentage 0.071 compared to the Lion's .051. Wildcat Brianca Mayfield had a game-high 15 kills, and her teammate Jessyca Watson produced 10 kills. Bethel's Katelyn Van Hooser had a team-high 21 assists, while Brooke Burress trailed closely behind. Giulia Zilotti corralled 26 digs to lead the Wildcats.
Bryan's Hope Burnett (SR/Asheville, N.C.) turned in the highest attack percentage on the court at .417 and ended with a team-high 11 kills. The only other Lion to notch double-digit kills was Dunlop who tallied 10. Veronica Salas (JR/Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) led the team with 21 assists while also serving a pair of aces and gathering 11 digs. Jennifer Keck (SO/Knoxville, Tenn.) aided with 14 assists and 10 digs. Rheagan Kean (FR/Chattanooga, Tenn.) scooped up a team-best 28 digs and was followed by Anna Owens who met the 20-dig mark.
The Lions look to carry the energy into their next matchup in the Bash with The Sun Conference opponent, Southeastern at 8pm. (Aug. 25)
To watch all of the matches live, visit the Bryan Lion's portal – click here.
Follow all of the matches via live stats by going to the Bryan Bash Tournament Page – click here.