The Francis Marion University volleyball team captured its sixth straight victory in dominating fashion on Tuesday, Oct. 23 by defeating the Barton College Lady Bulldogs in three sets (25-15, 25-20, 25-23) in the annual Dig Pink Match.
Every October, the volleyball squad hosts the Dig Pink Match to recognize breast cancer awareness and to raise funds for causes devoted to finding a cure for the disease.
All the Patriot players sported special pink uniforms and many fans even came out dressed in pink to support breast cancer awareness.
Patriots fan Chakira Peterkin was proud to see the team sound the alarm about the disease.
“I think it is a great thing that Francis Marion does this every year,” Peterkin said. “I’m pretty sure this means a lot to those who are suffering through breast cancer or know somebody who is. It is always pretty cool seeing all of the players and fans supporting with all of the pink on.”
Senior outside hitter Liz Drewry helped the Patriots keep a steady-paced hitting attack with 10 kills, while freshman sensation Alexzandra Reed and junior Jessica Imbimbo brought in nine kills each. Junior Megan Mooney added eight kills of her own. Sophomore setter Sloane Shank managed to dish out 16 assists, while sophomore libero Rebekah Davis shoveled up a team-high 12 balls.
The Patriots never trailed in the opening two sets.
The third set, however, was more of a struggle for FMU. Barton came out firing, coming close to victory after claiming a 23-19 lead late in set three, but the Patriots shifted the match into another gear from that point, snatching the momentum to take the final six points of the match and bring home the victory. Smith served for the final five points of the run, including one service ace, while Drewry posted two of her kills.
Patriots Head Coach Paul MacDonald was pleased with his team’s effort and poise in the match against Barton.
“We were serving tough and passing well,” MacDonald said. “Those are two critical areas. We also played with great consistency. Even when we fell behind in the third set we realized that we were taking it kind of easy and that we could not let up.”
Sophomore middle blocker Melissa Cochran and senior outside hitter Meredith Watkins led Barton with eight kills each in the match. Junior Jordan Lee also had a solid performance with six spikes, while senior Kati Wood brought in five kills. Sophomore setter Amanda Grandy managed to bring in a whopping 27 assists and nine digs in the losing effort. Senior libero Chelsea Fleury contributed with a team-high 12 digs, tying the Patriots’ Rebekah Davis, while Wood lifted up 11 digs. Cochran also added one solo block and two block assists.
The loss dropped Barton to 7-15 on the season and 3-7 on the road.
The Patriots moved up to an overall record of 15-7 (9-3 at home) and returned to Peach Belt Conference action with matches against the Peach Belt Conference’s top two teams, Flagler College and Armstrong Atlantic State University.
MacDonald felt confident in his team’s chances in the upcoming conference road matches, especially the rematch at Armstrong.
“Armstrong and Flagler are the top two teams in the conference,” MacDonald said. “Since our last lost against Armstrong, we feel very confident in our play. We are playing consistently smart and aggressive and that will give us a great chance to win. It will be tough but we are playing well and we are confident.”