SEWANEE – Junior Sheridan Jones collected a team-high 33 kills in two matches on Friday as Cumberland rolled to a pair of 3-1 victories over Pikeville and Pensacola Christian in the opening day of the Sewanee Invitational.
Junior Kasi Wells led the squad from the setter position with a combined 74 assists in the two games, while junior McCrea Barney paced the Bulldogs with 30 digs.
The Bulldogs squared off in the opening match of the two-day classic against Mid-South Conference foe Pikeville, as Jones and senior Mackenzie Gass combined for 34 kills in the victory.
Cumberland and Pikeville went toe-to-toe in the opening set, with the Bulldogs squeaking out a 34-32 win. CU struggled out of the gate, giving the Bears a 20-13 advantage before facing a 24-19 deficit. The squad battled back, finding a rhythm scoring five unanswered points to draw even. After a back-and-fourth battle, Cumberland scored three straight to retake the lead and, ultimately, win the first set.
The two teams continued the tight play in the second set, with no team gaining an advantage of more than five points. Pikeville eventually won the set, 26-24, in a second straight extended match.
Cumberland found its touch in set three, breaking out to a 21-12 lead before coasting to a 25-19 victory. The club trailed by as many as five early in the fourth and what would be final set, but was able to break away with three-straight points to close the 25-21 win and give the Bulldogs their second victory of the season.
With just a half hour break between matches, CU again stumbled in the second set, this time against Pensacola Christian.
After controlling most of the first set en route to a 25-18 win, the Bulldogs matched evenly with the Eagles in the second frame, playing extra points for the third time of the day. Ultimately, PCC edged Cumberland 26-24 to draw even.
Pensacola Christian remained close for much of the third set, but the Bulldog offense began to take control, opening up a 22-12 lead en route to 25-19 win. The best set of the day for CU came in the fourth and final set, as the team capitalized on several errors to finish the game on a 7-0 run to cap off a 25-12 dominating win and push the squad to 3-0 on the young season.
Action in the Sewanee Invitational continues and concludes Saturday as the team is scheduled for matches against Brescia University and Piedmont College. Brescia went 1-2 in the opening day, while Piedmont hold one of just three unbeaten marks along with Cumberland and host Sewanee.
CU and Brescia are set to face off at 2 p.m. Saturday with the Cumberland-Piedmont match slated in the final time slot of the day at 4.