FLORENCE, SC – Francis Marion University earned a set-point in the opening game, but eventually fell in three sets to unbeaten USC Aiken 26-24, 25-20, 25-18 on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 5) in Peach Belt Conference volleyball action.
FMU (8-8, 0-2) will step outside of conference play and travel to Paine College on Tuesday (Oct. 8) for a 7 p.m. first serve.
For the second match in a row, sophomore 6-2 middle blocker Iyanla Thigpen led the Patriots, this time with eight kills and two blocks. Junior 6-2 hitter Kayla Arthur registered five kills, while sophomore 6-2 middle blocker Lily Walton led the team with four blocks and added three kills. Sophomore setter Finn Millians registered 22 assists and senior libero Natalie Vaughn recorded a team-high 25 digs to push her career total to 1200.
Junior Alie Smith led USC Aiken (15-0, 3-0) with 13 kills and 11 digs and senior Christine Carrol added 10 kills. Pacer setter Alli Bell dished out 32 assists and libero Rebecca Martinez dug up 20 balls.
Each set featured three ties, but the match saw only three lead changes. FMU trailed 17-11 in the first set, but rallied with eight straight points behind the serving of Arthur and a pair of kills by junior Courtney Abdur-Rahim. The Patriots later led 23-20 and then 24-23, but the Pacers claimed the final three points of the set for a 26-24 win.
USCA broke a 3-3 deadlock in set two and did not trail again while taking a 2-0 lead. In the third set, Francis Marion trailed by only one (12-11) following a USCA attacking error. However, the Pacers scored the next five points and went onto the 25-18 victory.
Post-match comments from FMU head coach Lauren Baufield
USC Aiken def. Francis Marion Univ. 26-24,25-20,25-18
USC Aiken (15-0, 3-0) (Kills-aces-blocks) - Alie Smith 13-0-2;
Christine Carroll 10-0-2; Anita Cookey-Gam 6-0-1; Abbey Schad 6-2-3;
Kelsey Spurlin 4-1-1; Alli Bell 2-0-1; Rebecca Martinez 0-2-0; Kari
Mercer 0-2-0; Totals 41-7-5.0. (Assists) - Alli Bell 32. (Dig leaders)
- Rebecca Martinez 20; Kelsey Spurlin 15; Alie Smith 11
Francis Marion Univ. (8-8, 0-2) (Kills-aces-blocks) - Iyanla Thigpen
8-0-2; Kayla Arthur 5-1-1; Courtney Abdur-Rahim 4-0-1; Alyssa Hansen
4-1-0; Lily Walton 3-1-4; Madeline Winning 1-0-0; Finn Millians 0-0-3;
Totals 25-3-6.0. (Assists) - Finn Millians 22. (Dig leaders) - Natalie
Vaughn 25; Courtney Abdur-Rahim 6
Site: Florence, SC (Smith Univ. Center)
Date: 10/05/19 Attend: 98 Time: 1:21
Referees: Michael Holder, Randy McLamb
Line judges: Dan Jampole, Jamall Brown