SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University volleyball team recorded its highest single-match hitting percentage since 2016 and head coach Theresa Garlacy moved to within one victory of 500 for her head coaching career in a sweep of Middle Tennessee Friday night to open the Hampton Inn-vitational.
Bryant 3, Middle Tennessee 0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-18)
Records: Bryant (5-4); Middle Tennessee (1-6)
Location: Chace Athletic Center (Smithfield, R.I.)
Coach Garlacy's Comments
"Today we showed how tough we are to defend with so many offensive options and a well-balanced attack. It was great to have Julia Flynn back in the lineup as her crazy defense and wicked serves really gave us an energy boost. Mackenzie Wild shut down what proved to be a great start for Middle Tennessee with some well-timed blocks. Our team hitting percentage was one of the best I can remember for the Bulldogs. Everybody stepped up and did the little things, from Nikki Kim coming in with three aces and multiple tough serving runs, to Erika Ward, small but mighty, leading us in digs and passing almost flawlessly with an ace too."
How it Happened
- Set 1 – Middle opened up a 10-3 lead to begin the match before the Bulldogs came roaring back to take control of the set. Bryant hit .370 in the opening set to win it 25-18.
- Set 2 – Freshman Caroline Kennedy (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) notched four kills in a span of five points to put Bryant ahead 11-2 and force a Middle Tennessee timeout. The Blue Raiders would battle back, staving off set point at 24-19 and all the way to 23 before a kill from senior Kirstyn Sperry (Phoenix, Ariz.) put Bryant up 2-0.
- Set 3 – The Blue Raiders led 7-4 before five straight Bryant points, led by three aces from senior Julia Flynn (Pembroke, Mass.), put Bryant ahead 9-7. Middle would cut the deficit to 17-16 before six straight Bryant points, with two aces from junior Nikki Kim (River Edge, N.J.), put the Bulldogs on the doorstep of a sweep. Kills by senior Kristin Kingi (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) and Kennedy sealed the three-set victory.
- Kennedy recorded a team-high 12 kills while hitting .500 (12-1-22).
- Flynn recorded nine kills and three aces.
- Sophomore Erika Ward (Rochester, Mich.) notched a team-high 12 digs,
- Sperry and senior Julia Malet (San Rafael, Calif.) split the setting duties as Bryant hit .365 as a team – the Bulldogs' best mark since a .405 hitting percentage in a sweep of Hampton Sept. 17.
- Bryant improves to 1-0 against Middle Tennessee and tallies its first victory over a Conference USA member. The Bulldogs picked up their first MAC win Aug. 25 over Central Michigan.
- Head coach Theresa Garlacy enters Saturday's matches with 499 career victories.
The Bulldogs play two at the Hampton Inn-vitational Saturday with a noon start against Coppin State and 5 p.m. contest vs. Quinnipiac.