MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Faulkner entered its second Southern States Athletic Conference West division match of the season Tuesday night when it hosted No. 22 Spring Hill. The Lady Eagles took set one, but the undefeated Badgers rebounded with three unanswered wins to claim the victory 23-25, 25-8, 25-11, 25-19.
Faulkner trailed by as much as six in the opening set, but a late surge gave them the lead and smart work at the net ultimately carried them to the win.
The opening round loss proved to frustrate the Badgers and the reanimated visitors exploded to a 15-1 start in the second set. Faulkner managed to connect three points midway through, but never got their offense up and running and suffered the consequences.
The Lady Eagles improved slightly in game three. The home team struggled to stop Yiting Cao and Sha Sha Buchanon, who effectively kept the defense on the move, preventing the Lady Eagles form getting in system.
The final battle brought forth more fight from Faulkner. The team was able to pull within few points multiple times during the set, but never managed to gain the lead. Faulkner's game plan appeared effective early on, but as the Badgers warmed up, consistency became hard to come by for the Lady Eagles.
Head coach Tori Bartels identified the positives her team has made since the weekend and feels the girls are on the right track. "I saw a much-improved group out there tonight," she said. "We faced one of the strongest opponents we'll get this season and I think that set a tone. Spring Hill is well-coached and a real force, but we found out some important things tonight – that we can hang in there if we don't play defeated and that we do have it in us to make a mark in the division."
Cao led the Badgers on both sides of the ball. The senior had 19 kills, hitting .267, and added 16 digs and five total blocks. Buchanan followed hitting and impressive .435 with 13 kills. She had three total blocks.
Setter Taryn Nash had 42 assists for Spring Hill.
Shelby Woods led the home team on the offensive front. The sophomore had 9 kills, hitting .389, and had a pair of blocks.
Neysa Hernandez followed with seven kills, hitting. 182, and had 10 digs.
Abby Melvin led the defense with 23 digs. KK Lo logged 17 assists and Morgan Wilson tallied 11.
Faulkner drops to 12-7 overall and 1-4 in the league. The team is 0-2 in the West division. Spring Hill remains unbeaten at 19-0 (7-0/SSAC).
The Lady Eagles will travel to Cleveland, Tenn., this weekend for the second SSAC cross-divisional tournament of the year. Faulkner will open the event with Shorter at 4 p.m. on Friday