MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Faulkner hosted the opening round of its 11th annual Invitational tournament on Friday in Tine Davis Gymnasium and the Freeman-Harrison Student Multiplex on campus. The Lady Eagles opened the day with a four set victory over Virginia Intermont 25-18, 25-20, 16-25, 25-16, before falling to Bryan in like manner 27-25, 18-25, 19-25, 21-25.
The Lady Eagles were firing on all cylinders in the opening game against the Cobras. The defense was scrappy, the communication strong and the attack precise. The match wasn't without its errors, but the home team never seemed to stumble into the mental block that has become problematic in recent games. The Bryan game, however, read from a different script.
The Lions entered the contest off a five set victory over Southeastern after trailing 2-0. That momentum carried over into the Faulkner game, helping the Lions rebound from a close opening set loss.
Faulkner was strong and consistent in set one, but things slowly started to fall in subsequent frames. The scrappy defense and fast-paced attack at the net became muted. The team began to play somewhat timid and mistakes began to pile up.
"We lost the composure and aggressiveness we had against Virginia Intermont," said head coach Tori Bartels. "This has been the issue all season, opening strong and then little by little letting our effectiveness slip away. We have to reset tomorrow if we want to come out of the weekend with a positive mindset."
Ashley Towers was the kill leader for Faulkner with 19 over two matches. The freshman hit a combined .276 overall and added nine digs and seven service aces.
Sophomore Shelby Woods followed with 16 kills and had five total blocks.
After logging only two kills against Virginia Intermont, Neysa Hernandez exploded for the Lady Eagles. The Senior had 15 kills, hitting .258, and added 12 digs, four total blocks and three aces against the Lions.
Sophomore Kelsey Bell had 17 digs, 16 kills and three aces on the day.
Abbie Melvin moved into the libero role for Faulkner. The senior led the defense with 42 digs over both games.
Freshmen Morgan Wilson and KK Lo fed the ammo to the front line and tallied 43 and 36 assists respectively over the two matches.
Faulkner moves to 14-11 on the year and will enter round two of the Invitational on Saturday. The team will battle with Southeastern at 11:30 a.m. followed by a closer with St. Thomas (Fla.) at 3:30 p.m.