Patriots take the regular season title from the Braves


Photo by: Morgan Zastawnik

Junior outside, Gracie Davis, and senior middle, Lily Walton, jump to block the Braves.

The FMU Lady Patriots’ women’s volleyball team concluded their regular season as champions, rallying against the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP) Braves in a 3-1 win at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10, at Pembroke.   

The end of the regular season showcased the battle of I-95 with the Braves—the only team from the Peach Belt who transitioned to Conference Carolinas with the Patriots. The last match-up with the Braves at home was close, but the Patriots prevailed with a five-set win. With the Braves having a similar record to the Patriots going into the match at 14-2, this match-up proved even more crucial with the regular season on the line.   

FMU dominated the first two sets of the match with high hitting percentages that the Braves could not handle. In the third set, the Braves achieved an early five-point lead and kept the momentum throughout the game. The fourth set in the match was the most intense, with no significant leaning until around point 13, when the Patriots hit the gas. With four consecutive kills, three more kills after a UNCP point and then two blocks, the Lady Patriots secured their victory.   

The victory against Pembroke resulted from high production from the team’s offense. Sophomore outside hitter, Lexi Albright, registered 17 kills, graduate student and opposite, Kayla Arthur, registered 13 kills and junior outside hitter, Gracie Davis, registered 11 kills. The team’s overall hitting percentage was a .242 compared to Pembroke’s .174.   

However, a great offense could not be without an equally productive defense. The Patriots dug 79 balls compared to the Braves’ 68 digs. Freshman libero, Zoie Larkins, tallied 20 digs while three more players totaled digs in the double digits. Sophomore setter, Kaylee Gillespie, totaled 49 assists and 16 digs, earning her fifteenth double-double of the season. Arthur, Davis and senior middle blocker, Iyanla Thigpen, registered three blocks each.   

“It felt like everything we had worked for all season was coming together,” Gillespie said. “Getting to take down our rivals was a great ending to [our] regular season.”  

The Lady Patriots fought hard during the 2021 season, securing a 15-2 conference record, a coup for the team after a 5-9 record the previous year in the Peach Belt. Their hard work earned them a triple-bye in the conference tournament directly to the semifinals.  

“We dwelled on the win for that night but turned around the next day for weights and practice, with our next focus being on the conference tournament,” Gillespie said.   

The women’s volleyball team is lined up to face Emmanuel College at 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 19, in Bristol, Tennessee, for the Conference Carolinas semifinals match. The match is open to fans but can also be streamed online through