Barton falters at King, misses chance to clinch league title

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BRISTOL, Tenn. — A chance for the Barton College men’s volleyball team to wrap up the NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas regular-season title vanished on the road Friday night.

Instead, the battle for the No. 1 seed and likely host for the semifinals and finals of the conference tournament will come down to Saturday — the final day of the regular season — after the Bulldogs were turned back 25-17, 25-20, 21-25, 25-15 by the Tornado inside the King Student Center as the teams split their regular-season meetings.

The result snapped a 13-match winning streak for Barton, which fell to 18-7 overall and 14-1 against Conference Carolinas opposition. Barton had not lost a match to a Conference Carolinas opponent in its last 27 tries, dating back to the 2017 and a 3-2 loss to King on Feb. 18, 2017.

King climbed to 18-5 in all matches and pulled alongside the Bulldogs for the conference lead at 14-1. The final day of the regular season is Saturday, with Barton visiting Lees-McRae and King taking on Mount Olive at home. If both teams win Saturday, then the tie will be broken according to the fourth criterion in the Conference Carolinas rules — percentage of sets won in conference matches.

Barton struggled against King on the attack throughout, with the Tornado hitting .347 for the match. A .400 opening set was followed by a .360 showing in the second set, with that number ending at .550 in the fourth and final set. The Bulldogs hit just .147 on the atttack.

The second set was the most competitive, with eight ties and four lead changes before King closed it out. Only one tie or lead change occurred in the remaining four sets.

Aleksa Brkovic and Angelos Mandilaris each had 14 kills for Barton, with Oscar Fiorentino offering up 36 assists from the setters spot. Kiel Bell had 17 kills for King, followed by Jeff Sprayberry’s 15 kills. Adrian Beeson had 47 assists for King.