JACKSON, Miss. - Faulkner took on Belhaven for the first time this season Tuesday evening in a pivotal Southern States Athletic Conference match on the road. The Lady Eagles were two games out of fourth place in the West heading into the event and a win would put them in a tight race for a shot at the league tournament. Belhaven proved the dominant team however, and secured the victory in four sets 25-15, 25-19, 24-26, 25-20.
"We didn't show up," said head coach Tori Bartels. "As a coach you get tired of saying that cliche, but when it's true, it's true. We had an injury that knocked us back a notch, but Belhaven was a great opponent. You can't try to shy away from it, they were better and deserved the win."
On offense the teams were virtually identical. Faulkner posted a team hitting percentage of .150 and Belhaven just edged them with a .175. It was defense that was the deciding factor with the Blazers out-blocking the Lady Eagles 15 to five as a unit.
Neysa Hernandez led at the net for Faulkner with 14 kills and had 22 digs.
Brittnay Renfroe was the most effective weapon for the visitors tallying eight kills, hitting .444. The freshman led the front side defense with three total blocks.
Autumn Benson also logged eight kills, hitting .261, and followed Renfroe with a pair of blocks.
Abbie Melvin had 29 digs and Morgan Wilson and KK Lo had 22 and 16 assists respectively.
Faulkner sits in last place in the West division with four conference matches remaining in the regular season. If Lady Eagles can win three of the four, they will still need both Belhaven and Mobile to go winless in their remaining SSAC matches to force a three-way tie. The best insurance policy at this point would, of course, be to sweep all four events, but No. 21 and still undefeated Spring Hill is a massive obstacle in the path.
Faulkner drops to 16-12 overall and 2-8 in the SSAC. The Lady Eagles will travel to Birmingham Southern on Thursday. That match is set for 7 p.m.