Bulldogs bounce back from opening-set loss

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BELMONT —Losing the opening set got the attention of the Barton College men’s volleyball team Saturday afternoon.

The Bulldogs barked back from that 27-25 outcome to turn back host NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas foe Belmont Abbey 25-27, 25-16, 25-15, 25-23.

Barton boosted its conference lead to 9-0 and, with its seventh consecutive win, advanced to 12-6 overall. Barton is undefeated against Division II opposition. The Crusaders dropped to 4-6 and 6-10, respectively.

Led by junior Vasilis Mandilaris with a career-high 20 kills, the Bulldogs placed four players with double-digit kill totals. Sophomore Angelos Mandilaris notched 14, and juniors Justice Lord and Aleksa Brkovic added 10 each.

Hitting .429 for the match, Vasilis Mandilaris added seven digs — as did his brother, Angelos. Brkovic managed two aces, while Lord had six digs. Redshirt sophomore Oscar Fiorentino amassed 54 assists, while freshman Wilfredo Rivera paced Barton with 10 digs.

After the Crusaders claimed a 11-10 lead in the opening set, neither team led by more than one point before clinched on a kill from William Morris and a Barton attack error.

The Bulldogs, who hit .379 for the match, erased a 3-0 deficit in the second set and seized the lead for keeps at 8-5 with a 4-0 spree. Consecutive kills from Brkovic and Vasilis Mandilaris ended the set.

A 6-1 Barton start in the third set prompted a Belmont Abbey time-out. The Bulldogs built leads of 14-6, 20-9 and 23-13. A triple block by Barton secured the set.

The fourth-set lead belonged to the Bulldogs until Belmont Abbey erased a 21-17 deficit. With the score knotted at 22-22, Lord and Vasilis Mandilaris triggered the Bulldogs to a 24-22 edge. After a time-out from each side, Barton ended the match with a kill from Vasilis Mandilaris.

Liam Maxwell sparked the Crusaders with 17 kills. Brennan Davis recorded 32 assists, while Rob Valentine notched a match-high 13 digs.

Barton continues conference play with road matches against Erskine College on March 16 and Emmanuel College on March 17.