By Devon Jeffreys
Photo by Glenn Judah
PHOTO CAPTION: Freshman Justine Burkhardt plays a serve from Stetson University during the Lady Saints’ 3-0 victory Friday.
The Flagler College Lady Saints volleyball squad returned to action Friday after a six-day layoff and picked up right where they left off.
The Lady Saints extended their winning streak to six matches with a 3 games to 1 victory over NCAA Div. I Stetson University.
In the first game, Flagler would not trail after going down 1-0 on the first point and cruised to a 30-19 victory.
Game two would prove tougher for the ladies and after falling behind 19-18 in the middle of the game, they would not regain the advantage, falling 30-25. The loss in that game was the team’s first of the season at home. The Lady Saints came right back to win the fourth game without much contention, 30-20.
Sophomore Leah Melton said after the game that coach Taylor Mott talked to the team in the locker room between games two and three.
“Coach said, ‘You guys need to look like you want it more. We need to play with intensity out there.’ It’s one of our goals for the season was to come out with intensity,” Melton said. “With the crowd here tonight, we wanted to show them what we could do. There were times when that was lacking but I think after halftime we picked it up.”
In the fourth game, each team would hold leads as the game swung back and forth with the match hanging in the balance for Stetson. The Lady Saints would take control on a kill by Justine Burkhardt that invigorated the team and the crowd, putting the ladies up 28-26. They would go on to win 30 -27.
“Every point builds on each other,” Burkhardt said after the match. “It’s just the momentum, if we get a block or an over pass that we put down it just builds on top of each other and that’s what creates the excitement.”
The victory was Flagler’s 13th of the season. Mott said that she was most impressed with the defense during the match.
“I don’t think we played our best but I think we found a way to win,” she said. “A couple of our hitters were off and struggled tonight but made up for it in other areas.”
Katie Beale continued to impress with a team leading 14 kills in the match. Mott thinks that Beale is starting to settle in to her role on the team, which is helping her to play at a high level.
“For a true freshman, the composure she has is unbeatable,” Mott said. “When she’s struggling she still finds a way to put the ball away.”
On Saturday, the Lady Saints welcomed the Rollins Lady Tars to Flagler Gym for what promised to be a tough match. The Lady Tars entered the match with a record of 10-3 and offered a challenge Flagler had not yet seen at home.
The first game featured a late comeback by Flagler who rallied from a nine-point deficit to take a 25-24 lead that it would not relinquish in capturing a first game victory.
In game two, The Lady Saints jumped out to an 18-9 advantage but Rollins came right back and the tied the game at 19. Flagler answered right back with three straight points and managed to hold on for a 30-27 lead and a 2-1 advantage.
It seemed like the Lady Saints might have an opportunity to sweep the match during game three as they led early. Rollins, however, would not be denied, and despite trailing 19-13, the Lady Tars ran off eight consecutive points to take a 21-13 lead and never looked back. They won the game 30-26 and effectively swung the momentum their way.
The Lady Saints took an early lead in game four but it was short lived as Rollins again score eight unanswered points to take a 15-5 lead early and cruised to the match-tying win.
Game five began with back and forth points, but leading 10-8, Rollins scored five of the next six points, taking the game and the match in come from behind fashion 15-9.
The loss was Flagler’s first at home since last season’s Regional Championship loss to Savannah College of Art and Design. It was the Lady Saints’ first regular season home loss since Oct. 26, 2004 — also to Rollins. The Lady Saints fell to 13-6 on the season.
Burkhardt had 19 kills and 11 digs for Flagler in the loss. Melton had 12 kills and seven total blocks for the Lady Saints. Beale added 10 kills and 10 blocks.