BELMONT, N.C. -- Five different players established career highs on Tuesday night, leading Belmont Abbey to a thrilling 3-2 (32-30, 27-25, 19-25, 24-26, 15-11) victory over rival Limestone in Conference Carolinas men's volleyball action at the Wheeler Center. The match lasted two hours and 11 minutes and featured 37 ties and 21 lead changes overall.
Sophomore Liam Maxwell led four Crusaders in double figures with 23 kills, establishing a new career best, while Pierce Pliapol and William Morris also enjoyed their best kill numbers of 13 and 10, respectively. Senior Rob Valentine registered 25 digs -- his all-time best -- while freshman setter Brennan Davis tallied his high of 56 assists, plus chipped in 12 digs. Brian Long added 13 kills in the winning effort, three shy of his top performance.
The teams were evenly matched as three of the first four sets needed extra points. In the opener, there were 16 ties and six lead changes as Belmont Abbey (3-5, 2-1) eeked out a 32-30 victory. The Crusaders had led 23-20, but the Saints (2-9, 0-4) scored three in a row before the teams traded the next 14 points to 30-30. From there, a kill by Long and an ace by Pliapol gave The Abbey and early lead.
The second set had a little more separation, but Limestone rallied from a 19-15 deficit with five straight points. Belmont Abbey tied the set at 20 and 21 before taking leads of 22-21 and 23-22. The Saints earned a set point at 24-23, but Morris earned a kill after a timeout to extend the play. Limestone had another set point at 25-24, but a service error tied the score again, 25-25. Gavin Schaffer had an ace, then Pliapol added a kill for the 27-25 victory.
Limestone rallied with a 25-19 win in the third before the teams before forcing a deciding set with a 26-24 win in the fourth. In that set, the Saints rallied from match point at 24-23 with three straight points.
Belmont Abbey trailed 3-2 in the third before rattling off four straight points for a 6-3 lead. Limestone rallied to within two several times, the last at 11-9 before the Crusaders surged ahead. Back-to-back kills by Maxwell made the margin four at 13-9, but the Saints answered with two points of their own. However, another Maxwell kill set up a second match point, with an attack error on Limestone ending the night.
Belmont Abbey returns to action this weekend with a Conference Carolinas road trip to Erskine and Emmanuel.