Ladies Give Mississippi State and Memphis Tough Test
Friday, September 12, 2008

STARKVILLE, Miss.—The Centenary volleyball team switched a few strategies up at the MSU Club Bulldog Invitational and it almost resulted in a major upset. The Ladies led the host Mississippi State team early but fell 3-1 (21-25, 25-22, 25-20, 26-24) in a tough battle and then lost its second match of the day 3-0 (25-15, 26-24, 25-13) to Memphis.


Centenary (2-8) made a few adjustments prior to the tournament and took a different approach to both its offense and defense. In addition to the different strategies, some players were shuffled around in the lineup. One of those changes involved sophomore Bethany Kern. Kern, usually the Ladies’ defensive specialist, was moved to a more offensive-minded position, allowing her to take some swings. The move paid off as Kern led the Centenary offense with 13 kills against MSU.


The Ladies shocked the Bulldogs out of the gate, grabbing a 13-11 lead in the opening set on a kill by Kern. Mississippi State (5-4) came back to move ahead at 21-19, but Centenary responded by winning six of the final eight points on three aces from Kern and a pair of kills from Christina Golden to take the first set.


Centenary carried the momentum over into the second set and found itself with a four-point advantage at 18-14. Several minutes later, the Ladies still led 22-20 after a kill from Brianna Kern. Just when it seemed the Maroon and White could take a 2-0 lead on the SEC team, Mississippi State stormed back to score five straight points to steal the set from Centenary, despite taking the lead at 23-22 for the first time since the score was 4-3 in the opening moments.


Centenary also led by as many as five points in the third set and held the advantage until a Bulldog kill put MSU ahead at 14-13. A Bethany Kern kill made the score 21-20 in favor of the home team before State closed out the set on a 4-0 run.


Still fighting hard, Centenary tied Mississippi State at 24 apiece in the fourth set before MSU’s Ashley Newsome and Mandy Mellencamp put the match away with back-to-back kills.


Bethany Kern led all Ladies with her 13 kills and had just six errors to go along with 15 digs and four aces. Brianna Kern added 12 kills and 12 digs, while Golden finished with 11 kills. Jaclyn Lopez dished out 23 assists and totaled 12 digs and Kayla Tibaldo added 15 digs for Centenary.


In the nightcap, the Ladies gave Memphis a strong push in the second set. Centenary moved out to a 6-1 lead at the front of the set but Memphis erased the deficit and extended out to a four-point advantage at 16-12. The Maroon and White tied the set at 22-22 on an ace from Bethany Kern and again at 24-24 on a Tiger hitting error, but Memphis won the final two points to close out the contest.


Struggling offensively, Centenary hit just -.010 against Memphis. The Kern sisters each led the way with five kills apiece, while Tibaldo recorded a match-high 16 digs. Bethany Kern added two more aces to give her six on the day.


The Ladies return to action on Saturday with an 11 a.m. match against Central Arkansas.