Gardner's Grand, But B-CU Falls 3-2 To S.C. State
By Dan Ryan
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - After recording her 16th kill of the match during the fourth set of Friday's instant classic with South Carolina State, Krysta Gardner got a little confused. That was understandable. The match had been stopped and her parents, Kevin and Lisa Gardner, were coming on to the court.
Congratulations, Krysta. Welcome to your 1,000th career kill.
There was a photo op, of course, and she got to keep the game ball. Then it was back to business to try to get the Lady Wildcats their first victory of the season.
That win was the only thing that eluded Bethune-Cookman as South Carolina State escaped with a 3-2 (23-25,27-25,25-27,25-23,15-11) to South Carolina State in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Southern Division opener for both teams in Historic Moore Gymnasium.
Gardner finished with a season-high 21 kills and became the second player in B-CU history to reach the 1,000 kill level, joining Melissa Sanders. The senior also registered her 100th career service ace, finishing with six, and posted nine digs on defense.
The next milestone? Sanders' career record of 1,060 kills. Gardner now needs 55 for that, but let's stop counting for one night.
"Honestly, I didn't think I was that close," Gardner confessed. "But I'm excited. It's an accomplishment that I couldn't do without my teammates. It was awesome having my parents here. My mom has been tracking that 1,000 kills."
B-CU Head Coach Isaac Raphael appreciated the moment.
"I'm happy for her and the program is happy for her," Raphael said. "Krysta is not selfish. She gives her teammates all the credit."
Janeen Davis had a 19-kill, 10-dig double-double for B-CU (0-18,0-1), and Delicia Pierre also double-doubled with 11 kills and 11 digs. Jennifer Jimenez matched a career-high with 25 digs and Aria Cormier seven blocks that earned the latter two spots among the B-CU top ten single-match totals.
"I'm very happy with my upperclassmen," Raphael said. "I'm very happy with their contributions."
But B-CU's youth showed when it didn't need to. The Lady Cats were one point away from going up 2-0 in the second set, had a mental lapse on a crucial late point in the fourth set and allowed the Bulldogs to pull away in the fifth.
"I have to remind myself that we are very young team," Raphael said. "It's all about composure. We had our chances."
Gardner's six-point service run helped B-CU erase a 23-18 deficit and win the first set, giving the Lady Cats their first match lead of the season.
In the third set, B-CU saw a 24-22 lead switch into a 25-24 deficit before scoring the final three points, with Jimenez serving an ace on set point for the victory.
Desire Waller had a match-high 28 kills for South Carolina State.
B-CU hosts Savannah State Sunday at 1 p.m.