(PENSACOLA, Fla.) – In what turned out to be a long final day at the Hemmingway’s Island Grill Invitational at West Florida, the Jennies split a pair of five-set matches, falling to Tampa before knocking off Lock Haven (Pa.).
UCM lost to Tampa 25-14, 25-22, 11-25, 25-27, 8-15, and then defeated Lock Haven (Pa.) 30-28, 23-25, 25-14, 20-25, 15-11.
Two Jennies surpassed the 20-kill mark, with sophomore Aubri Renshaw collecting 26 against Tampa, and senior Bradye Peniston recording 22 in the win over Lock Haven.
The Jennies (3-1) started off strong against the Spartans, who defeated Central Missouri last year in Warrensburg, and in the national semifinal match in 2010. After a dominating first set, UCM found themselves trailing throughout the second, until Renshaw reeled off three straight kills to tie the game at 16-16. Both sides traded one-point leads until a service ace from Julia Bates and back-to-back kills from Taylor Goodness gave the Jens a 24-21 edge. Hillary McCormick closed out the set with a kill off the pass from Bates.
Tampa responded once their backs were against the wall with a 25-11 win in set three. The fourth game was close throughout; a total of five ties came starting at 20-20 with a Peniston service ace, and ending at 25-25 with a McCormick solo block. A pair of errors from UCM gave Tampa the edge, 27-25, forcing a fifth and final set. Two straight Spartan kills and a Jennie attack error pushed Tampa in front 7-3 in the fifth set, forcing a UCM timeout. Renshaw came out of the break with a kill, but the Jennies failed to put together a rally. Tampa went on a quick 4-point run that pushed their lead to 12-5, and the Jennies couldn’t make up the ground.
In the second match of the day, Central jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the first set, looking in control early. Lock Haven rallied back with an 8-3 run that tied the set at 21-21. After trading serves, the Jennies put a run together, scoring five of the last six points to take the set.
The second set looked similar, with UCM again taking an early lead, up 9-3 after a pair of kills from Peniston, before the Eagles tied the match with a six point run at 15-15. Lock Haven took the late lead, and while a pair of attack errors gave the Jens a shot at 23-24, LHU closed out the set with a kill.
Nine straight points early in the third set pushed a 5-2 Jennies edge to a 14-2 score. UCM went on to take the third game comfortably. Lock Haven answered in the fourth, after Renshaw tied the game at 18-18 with a kill. The Eagles reeled off five straight points to go in front 23-18, and eventually forced a fifth game with a 25-20 win.
The Eagles built a narrow 5-3 lead in the shortened fifth set before a service error gave the Jennies the serve and a one-point deficit. An LHU attack error followed by a Peniston kill gave UCM a 6-5 edge. After two straight points from Lock Haven, Peniston answered again to tie the set at 7-7. The Jennies stepped on the gas with four straight points, highlighted by kills from Bates, and Courtney Cornell in her first appearance of the year. The Jennies closed out the match with a kill from McCormick, and finished the weekend with three wins in four matches.
Peniston worked efficiently, posting a .588 hitting percentage in the win over Lock Haven, as well as a .318 average against Tampa. Defensively, freshman Annie Reilly posted another pair of double-digit performances, with 15 digs against Tampa and 23 against Lock Haven. Renshaw earned her second double-double of the year, with 26 kills and 11 digs in the match against Tampa. Bates also recorded a double-double in that match, along with her first 50-assist match of the year, picking up 13 digs. Freshman Mikalee Monachino and junior Jamie Haworth recorded 14 and 13 digs, respectively against Tampa.
The Jennies return home before travelling to Denver, Colo. for next weekend’s Colorado Premiere Challenge, starting Friday, Sept. 7. The Jens will face West Texas A&M and Metro State on day one of the tournament, beginning at 1 p.m.