MARS HILL, N.C. – The Anderson University volleyball team won the South Atlantic Conference Regular Season Championship with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-13, 28-26) win over Mars Hill, Saturday afternoon at Stanford Arena.
"This team has achieved one of our main goals this year and that was to win a South Atlantic Conference Championship," said Anderson Head Coach Todd Hay. "I'm so proud of each player and how hard they have worked in practice and how much each person has contributed on the court and off. It's also a great day for our fans and our wonderful university. We are very excited to play at home on Tuesday in the SAC Quarterfinals."
With the win, Anderson (26-3, 19-1 SAC) dethroned 10-time defending conference champion Wingate and won the first regular-season title in program history, while setting a new school record for wins in a single season.
Mars Hill (11-16, 9-11 SAC) saw its win streak halted at four, but still captured either the sixth seed in the SAC Tournament.
"We are also so proud for our four seniors and the fact that they can go out as champions," added Hay. "Marissa, Mallory, Rachel and Serena have been outstanding leaders and our underclassmen have benefited so much from their leadership. Thanks to our seniors."
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Senior outside hitter Marissa Mitter recorded a match-high 13 kills and chipped in seven digs, while classmate Serena Jackson added 11 kills and three total blocks. Senior Rachel Burts notched eight kills and hit .412 on the day, while knocking down seven total blocks. Sophomore setter Emily Conlin handed out 39 assists and cemented a double-double with 11 digs.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After the Trojans scored the first three points of the set, Mars Hill posted three unanswered points of its own to knot the score for the first of five times during the frame.
The Lions snapped a 4-4 deadlock with two straight points, with AU responding to even the score at seven before Mars Hill again took a two-point edge four times. The Trojans bounced back to even the score at 12-12 and again at 15-15, before AU reeled off a 6-2 surge to take a lead it would not surrender.
With Conlin serving, the Trojans scored the first four points of the set and never trailed, while building an eight-point, 13-5, lead. AU surged to a double-digit 17-7 cushion and went on for the 12-point victory behind a .300 hitting percentage.
The third frame featured 14 ties and required a late AU rally, as the Trojans held off set point on three occasions.
AU broke an early 4-4 tie with four consecutive points behind strong play at the net to double up the Lions and held the four-point margin three more times before MHU crept back and evened the score at 12 apiece. Neither team was able to build more than a two-point advantage until the Lions claimed a 20-17 lead. But AU responded with five straight points to grab a 22-20 lead on a kill from Jackson.
Mars Hill bounced back with a 4-1 surge to reach set point for the first time, and the Lions held set point two more times before Burts evened the score at 26-26 with a kill and followed with a solo block to give the Trojans the lead and finished the win with a kill.
"Thank you as well to Rachel Moran and all that she has contributed to our coaching staff this year," said Hay. "She has the heart and mind of a coach and our players have loved playing for her. Monica Lopes has been there from day one as well and looked after all of our injuries, soreness and rehab. The players and I are especially thankful for her hard work and expert care this season."
ANDERSON STAT OF THE AFTERNOON
After recording three blocks in Friday night's sweep of Tusculum, the Trojans posted 10 total blocks Saturday afternoon.
• The Trojans extended their school-record win streak to 21 matches.
• Only Arkansas Tech (32 matches) and California Baptist (25 matches) have longer active win streaks.
• AU has won 15 matches straight matches at the Abney Athletic Center dating back to last season.
• Conlin has 15 double-doubles on the season.
As the top seed, the Trojans will play host to No. 8 seed Coker in Tuesday's SAC Tournament Quarterfinals at the Abney Athletic Center. First-serve versus the Cobras is slated for 7 p.m.
SAC TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINAL INDIVIDUAL DAILY TICKETS:
Quarterfinals: Adult - $ 5.00; Youth (12 and under)/Senior (60+) Active or Retired Military - $3.00; College Students with college ID - $ 2.00