MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Faulkner entered day two of its 11th annual Invitational on Saturday looking for a confidence boost with a pair of wins. Faulkner hadn't secured back-to-back victories since Sept. 9 when the team's 9-0 start came to an end in Atlanta. The Lady Eagles opened strong against a talented Southeastern team and picked up the win 25-21, 26-28, 25-23, 25-17 before closing the weekend in a straight set bout with Saint Thomas (Fla.) 25-23, 25-21, 26-24.
"We needed this," said head coach Tori Bartels. "Our recent competition has been really tough. We needed to get some wins to remember what it feels like. This will be a big asset heading back into conference play."
Southeastern entered the weekend with the worst record in the tournament, but surprised everyone with aggressive and resilient play. Faulkner knew it would have to stay in control from the beginning if it wanted to stop the Fire and keeping the momentum has been a struggle for the home team in recent weeks.
The Lady Eagles came up short in the second set, but dominated the rest of the match. That intensity carried over into the Saint Thomas game and proved to be the deciding factor in a very close contest.
"We did a great job of not losing focus today," Bartels added. "That's been a big issue lately - doing well, then falling apart mentally. We got an important win this morning and then fought hard in game two. We knew the girls had it in them and we pushed them hard all week and all that work paid off."
Kelsey Bell and Neysa Hernandez led the offense with 23 kills each and added 32 and 30 digs respectively on the day.
Shelby Woods had 18 kills and a pair of blocks and Ashley Towers posted 15 kills.
KK Lo had 42 assists on the afternoon and Morgan Wilson had 40.
Abbie Melvin had 30 digs against Saint Thomas.
Faulkner moves to 16-11 on the year and will try to climb out of last place in the Southern States Athletic Conference West when it takes on division rival Belhaven in a crucial matchup on Tuesday. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Jackson, Miss.