GREENWOOD, S.C. – The Jaguars endured an opening set loss and forced a fifth with the Bearcats to earn a 3-2 comeback Peach Belt victory on Tuesday night in Horne Arena. It was the fifth-straight win for GRU Augusta and moved them to 15-4 overall and 6-2 in the league.
Junior Kailla Baptiste earned the start and knocked a team-high 14 kills while assisting with two blocks. Senior Kristen Koch produced 13 kills and 16 digs and Katie Beresford, Paige Elliott, and Maggie Darling all posted 11 kills. Darling added 23 digs and got in on three blocks, while Elliott produced two solo blocks and assisted two more at Lander.
The Jaguars fell behind early to Lander in set one, but quickly turned it around to steal an 8-3 lead over a Bearcat attack error. Lander used a couple of service aces from Jessica Register to knot the first set at 10-all, though GRU would respond. From there, the score was tied seven times until the 21-all mark when LU pulled away for a 25-23 win – the closest set of the night.
GRU Augusta junior Katie Beresford helped the Jags bounce back in set two with a first point kill. The set reflected the first with a back-and-forth affair. Tied at 19-all, the Jags went up by two with kills from Darling and Baptiste. GRU never relinquished the lead and evened the match at 1-1.
LU took a 2-1 lead in set three after the Jags produced a -.024 hitting percentage (10 kills to 11 errors) to the Bearcats' .294 to lose 25-16. GRU enjoyed a blowout set themselves and forced a fifth and deciding set with a 25-18 set-four victory. The Jags produced their best hitting percentage of the night at that point with a .220 clip and held a steady lead throughout.
The Bearcats were ahead 3-0 in set five, but the Jags slowly the cut the lead until a Kristen Koch kill netted the set at 6-all. GRU had to endure another 3-0 run from the Bearcats, but steady defense forced LU into a few attack errors for them to tie the set at 10-all and 11-all. With Koch on serve, Baptiste put herself in position for back-to-back kills and Paige Elliott followed with another from Alyssa Latham. Maggie Darling struck home the final attack to give the Jags the comeback victory and their fifth straight of the season.
Alyssa Latham assisted 42 points for GRU, while Sadie Thurston added with an ace off the bench. Libero Catherine Desilvester produced 24 digs in the specialist position. GRU had eight blocks as a team in the win. The Jaguars play a Peach Belt match at Georgia College this Saturday, Oct. 11 at 2:00 p.m. in the Centennial Center.