BALTIMORE, MD. - Kayla Klinger recorded a season-high 11 kills and Sydney Tracy added nine of her own as the Charleston Southern Buccaneers volleyball team improved their hitting percentage in each set in defeating Morgan State University in the first match of the Marriott Greyhound Classic at Reitz Arena in straight sets, 26-24, 25-16, 25-20.
CSU (4-5) picks up their fourth win of the season as the Buccaneers hit .236 on the afternoon as a team, including a match-high .294 in the final set. Wynter Davis and Katrina Houston added six kills apiece for the Charleston Southern squad as the Bucs topped their second consecutive team from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference this week after sweeping Savannah State this past Tuesday.
"We didn't play as well as we did against USC Upstate last weekend, but we played well enough to win today," commented head coach Al Givens on the match. "Kayla Klinger and Katrina Houston played very well for us and Kirsten Struksnes stepped up and gave us the ability to try some different things on the court this afternoon."
The Buccaneers jumped ahead early in the first set, building a 7-1 lead on Tracy's serve as the sophomore outside hitter placed in a pair of aces. CSU went up 10-5 on a MSU attack error, but the Bears battled back, scoring 12 of the next 13 points behind a pair of kills by Samantha Prescott and a service ace by Ngebui Chafeh as Morgan State went up 17-11 after their run.
The Bucs battled back, evening the match at 21 apiece following a pair of Klinger kills. The teams remained knotted up at 24 apiece following a kill by MSU's Arianna Hayden, but Charleston Southern was able to claim the set following a pair of Bears' miscues to build the 1-0 lead with the 26-24 victory.
Charleston Southern broke open an 11-10 match in the second set, rattling off seven consecutive points on Ashley Higgenbothem's serve as Higgenbothem placed in an ace and Meredith Parrott added a kill as CSU went up 18-10. Back-to-back kills by Klinger put the Bucs up 21-12 as Charleston Southern closed out the set on a Tracy kill to go up 2-0 after the 25-16 set win.
CSU built off their momentum from the second set, scoring 18 of the first 25 points in the final frame to build an 18-7 lead following a kill by Tracy. The Bears battled back, keeping the match within reach as Morgan State rallied behind back-to-back blocks by Jourdan Lemons and Janelle Wilson to cut the CSU lead to 23-19. However, the comeback fell short as Tracy put away the final point for the Buccaneers to close out the sweep with the 25-20 victory.
Higgenbothem led the Buccaneers defensive efforts with nine digs in the match, while Kirsten Struksnes set up the CSU attack with 28 set assists. Klinger led the Bucs serving efforts with three of CSU's seven aces in the match, while Tracy added two blocks at the net as Charleston Southern moved Givens within four victories of his 400th career win.
"We'll definitely have to play better tomorrow with the two matches we have against Loyola and Rider," said Givens. "We're getting comfortable with our system and we're playing really well. We need to continue to play well, learn something from today and get better for tomorrow."
Charleston Southern closes out the two-day event with a pair of matches on Saturday inside Reitz Arena. The Buccaneers take on tournament host Loyola University at 11:30 a.m., while CSU finishes the day with a 4:30 showdown against Rider University.
For more information on the Marriott Greyhound Classic, click on the link here.