FLORENCE, S.C. – With junior Kathryn Hughes and sophomore Kaitlyn Grube each knocking down a match-high 15 kills and senior Jayln Knight adding a dozen kills, the Anderson University volleyball team opened the season by outpacing Indianapolis, 3-1 (25-23, 18-25, 25-23, 25-19), Friday afternoon at the Coker/Francis Marion Fall Invitational.
The two-day event is being co-hosted by Coker and Francis Marion, with the Trojans and Greyhounds squaring off at FMU's Smith University Center.
Anderson claimed its fifth straight season opener and seventh season opener in the last nine years.
Indianapolis, which blanked Converse, 3-0, in the first match of the day on Friday, slipped to 1-1 on the early season.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Knight and Grube each notched a double-double by adding 15 digs and 13 digs, respectively, while junior setter Emily Conlin recorded a double-double by handing out a match-best 50 assists and coming up with 16 digs. Senior defensive specialist Emily Conard notched a team-high 22 digs, with freshman Noelle Knutsen adding five block assists.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Led by Grube's six kills and Hughes' four kills and .444 hitting percentage, AU posted a .238 hitting percentage to claim the narrow win.
The Trojans scored the first four points of the set and never trailed en route to the two-point victory. UIndy stayed within striking distance and crept within a single point on three occasions before eventually knotting the score at 12 apiece. But Hughes knocked down her third kill of the frame to regain the lead for AU and a ball handling error by UIndy briefly extended AU's cushion back to two (14-12) before the Greyhounds evened the score for the second time at 14-14.
Knight then ignited a 5-1 scoring outburst that enabled the Black and Gold to rebuild a four-point margin, at 19-15, before UIndy countered with three unanswered points to again narrow AU's lead to a single point before the Trojans reeled off three straight as part of a 4-1 surge to claim a 23-19 advantage. The Greyhounds answered with four straight to tie at 23 apiece before sophomore middle blocker Hailee Wilhelm and Hughes posted back-to-back kills to preserve the win.
The second frame featured seven ties and five lead changes, with a late surge giving the Greyhounds the seven-point decision.
AU scored the first point of the set, but UIndy pushed out to a 7-5 edge before AU scored two straight and a Greyhound error gave the Trojans an 8-7 lead – their first since the first point of the set.
Later, with the score knotted for the sixth time at 10 apiece, Wilhelm and Grube each notched kills to spark a 4-1 run, but the three-point lead proved to be AU's largest of the set. UIndy countered with a 7-1 rally to claim an 18-13 lead, and while Hughes and Wilhelm combined on a block to slow the Greyhounds' run, UIndy pulled away and closed on the strength of a 7-2 outburst.
UIndy scored the first four points of the frame, while AU battled back to even the score at 5-5 behind the play of Hughes and freshman Noelle Knutsen, and AU took its first lead (6-5) on miscue by the Greyhounds.
Moments later Hughes' third kill of the set gave the Trojans their second lead of the set, at 7-6, and the score was knotted two more times before UIndy snapped a 10-10 deadlock by posting a 6-2 surge.
Trailing by four, AU answered with a 6-1 rally of its own to claim a brief 18-17 lead before Indianapolis took its final lead of the set, at 20-19. With Knight leading the final surge by knocking down a kill and posting an ace, the Trojans regained the advantage and held on for the two-point win.
The final frame saw nine ties and with AU starting slowly, sophomore Christina Stacy posted strong serving and Knight recorded a pair of kills, as the Trojans rattled off four straight points and claimed a 6-3 advantage.
Neither team was able to build more than a three-point lead until Hughes, Knight and Knutsen sparked a late run and AU snapped the ninth tie score (14-14) with five unanswered points to take control of the set. UIndy closed within three on two occasions, but three consecutive errors by the Greyhounds sealed their fate.
STAT OF THE MATCH
There were 27 ties on the afternoon.
• The Trojans won their fifth straight season-opener and seventh season-opener in the last nine years.
• Opening Day Jitters? The two teams combined for 15 service errors and 58 attack errors.
• The Trojans posted 14 block assists and five service aces on the day.
Anderson will be looking for its second straight win when the Trojans square off against the host Patriots at 7 p.m. at the Smith University Center.