By Matt Green
MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. -- Jasmine Crook tied career highs with 22 kills and 20 digs, Tanequa Whitman matched a career high with 34 digs and Shorter University improved to 3-0 on the young season with a thrilling five set victory over Bryan College in the Milligan Mountain Madness Tournament on Saturday morning. Game scores were 27-29, 26-24, 25-21, 22-25, 15-11.
Jordan Corder flirted with a career high with 54 assists and Jennifer Campbell and Leslie Welch pitched in with 13 and 11 kills, respectively, for the Lady Hawks (3-0), who defeated Columbia (S.C.) and tournament host Milligan on Friday to open the 2012 season.
Shorter, in its first season as an NCAA Division II affiliate after establishing itself as one of the NAIA's top volleyball programs over the last several years, got plenty of strong performances across its entire lineup to stay unbeaten with one match left in the opening weekend.
Jasmine Nieman had 22 digs and Dena Pierce added 11 digs for the Lady Hawks, who fought back after dropping the first set to win an extended second set and take a 2-1 lead in the match with a 25-21 win in set three. Shorter raced out to a 10-6 lead in the fourth set before Bryan, which got a team-high 17 kills from Chelsea Breaden, used a 15-6 run to snag a 21-16 lead in the set. The Lions eventually held on to force a fifth set as Breaden's sixth kill of the frame secured a 25-22 win for Bryan in the fourth.
The Lady Hawks trailed 3-1 to open the fifth set, but a service ace by Whitman -- one of only two for Shorter all match -- sparked a 9-3 spurt by Shorter capped by Campbell's 13th and final kill that put the Lady Hawks in front 10-6. Whitman sealed the win with her second ace several points later and Shorter remained unblemished.
Crook's 22 kills equaled the 22 kills she produced in Shorter's five set victory over new Gulf South Conference rival Alabama-Huntsville in Alabama last year. Crook led all hitters with 64 attempts and had seven of her kills in the first set, including a run of five straight on consecutive points.
Anna Graham had five kills for Shorter, but exerted herself on the defensive side of the net, where she was a part of 10 blocks with two solo and eight assisted. Campbell hit .314 with just two errors in 35 attempts and Kelsey Kirk chipped in with five kills for the victors.
Shorter will take on the University of Mobile at 1:30 pm in its final matchup of the Milligan Mountain Madness Tournament.