GREENWOOD – The Lander volleyball team began a busy home week with a non-conference win over Limestone, defeating the Saints 3-1 in front of a crowd of 340 at Finis Horne Arena on Tuesday night. The Bearcats won the match 25-10, 23-25, 25-19, 25-23.
"It wasn't the cleanest performance I've seen from our girls," said head coach Ashley White, "but I think it let them know what we need to practice over the next two days. I also saw some amazing things from our kids. To beat a team 25-10 [in the first set], that speaks volumes to the potential we have."
Lander (11-2) took command of the first set as Reilly Kuenstler served the Bearcats to a 16-5 lead with a 5-0 run and helped Lander cap the set with a flourish, recording each of the Bearcats' final three kills to put Lander up 1-0 with a 25-10 win.
The Bearcats led by as many as six points in the second set and held an 18-15 lead before Limestone (4-5) stormed back with seven straight points. Down 24-20, Lander rallied to pull within a point, but the Saints closed out the set to even the score at 1-1.
The third set saw Limestone race to a 5-0 lead before the Bearcats awoke to score seven of the next nine points, highlighted by three consecutive aces from Boo Luther. Lander eventually fought back to take its first lead of the set with a kill from Kaitlyn Krafka at 9-9 and Kunestler iced the set with a kill to put the Bearcats back on top, 2-1.
The match appeared to be heading for a fifth set as Limestone built a 17-10 lead in set four, but Lander answered with seven straight points. Despite the rally, the Saints led 23-21 late in the set, but Hannah Hritz's kill pulled the Bearcats within a point and back-to-back attack errors from Limestone gave Lander match point. Hritz finished the comeback with her 11th kill of the night to give the Bearcats the win.
Krafka posted her sixth consecutive double-double with a team-high 20 kills and 15 digs. Kunester added 13 kills and 3.5 block, while Ross and Hritz each posted 11 kills on the evening. Hannah McManus led the Bearcats with 23 digs and Madilyn Reed posted a career-high 49 assists in the victory.
The 340 fans marked the sixth-largest crowd in program history.
Lander opens Peach Belt Conference play on Friday night as the Bearcats host Francis Marion at 7:00 p.m. in Horne Arena.