Trojans Top Carson-Newman in Five-Set Thriller

Trojans Top Carson-Newman in Five-Set Thriller

ANDERSON, S.C. – In front of a near-capacity crowd, the Anderson University volleyball team opened its home schedule by out-dueling Carson-Newman, 3-2 (25-20, 22-25, 25-21, 22-25, 15-10) in South Atlantic Conference action, Friday night at the Abney Athletic Center.

"What an amazing way to start off the home portion of our schedule," said Anderson head coach Todd Hay. "Thank you to our awesome AU campus community for giving the team such a tremendous home court advantage. The team needed that extra boost as the night went on."

Anderson (5-2, 3-1 SAC) has won three straight and five of its last six outings, while Carson-Newman (4-3, 2-2 SAC) dropped its second straight decision.

Sophomore Maya Learmonth led a balanced attack with 16 kills and narrowly missed a double-double after coming up with nine digs. Junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Grube added a season-high 11 kills, while junior hitter Regan Duty tallied seven kills. Sophomore middle Noelle Knutsen notched a season-high seven kills and added a solo block and a pair of block assists.

Senior setter Emily Conlin dished out a season-high 49 assists and recorded a season-best 20 digs, while junior Christina Stacy came up with 19 digs and freshman Lindsay McCurley chipped in 17. Freshman Alexandra Petrilli posted eight digs in the win.

"This was truly a team effort as most of our roster saw action and contributed," added Hay. "We definitely need to step it up on the service game and learn how to serve tough in pressure situations. However, I'm very proud of our overall effort. We showed good fight for most of the match."

First Set
The opening frame the stage for the rest of the night, as the set featured a dozen ties, with neither team able to build more than a four-point lead until the final margin.

AU snapped a 9-9 deadlock with a 5-1 run that was sparked by back-to-back kills from Learmonth, but the Eagles refused to go away and rallied to even the score at 16 apiece.

Following six more ties and with AU down 21-20, Learmonth's fifth kill of the set knotted the score again – at 21-21 – and a pair of kills by Duty in the final moments helped lift AU to the win.

Second Set
Carson-Newman opened the second set with a vengeance, as the Eagles scored the first five points of the frame and built an 8-2 advantage.

After falling behind, 21-12, the Trojans withstood the challenge by scoring seven unanswered points on the strength of DeVaux's strong serves. AU pulled within two on two more occasions, but could not overtake Carson-Newman down the stretch.

Third Set
The Eagles carried the momentum into the early stages of the third frame by quickly doubling up the Trojans, 8-4. But AU didn't wilt, as Learmonth and Grube helped fuel a comeback that saw the Black and Gold claim its first lead, at 11-10, on Learmonth's second kill of the set.

The score was knotted five more times before the Trojans capitalized on a late surge to hold off Carson-Newman in the final moments.

Fourth Set
Carson-Newman posted four consecutive points midway through the set to claim a 14-10 advantage and a lead that the Eagles would not relinquish.

Later, Conlin's second ace of the night pulled AU within just 20-19 and a kill by the Glendale, Ariz., native again got the Trojans within 23-22 before Carson-Newman responded with two straight points to earn the win.

Fifth Set
With the score even at five apiece and McCurley serving, AU reeled off five consecutive points to double up Carson-Newman. The Eagles countered with four straight points of their own before AU took advantage of a C-N error and pushed out to a two-point lead. With the shift in momentum, AU finished out the match by scoring the final three points.

The Trojans extended their home win streak to 29 consecutive matches.

• The win was AU's first five-set decision of the season and the first since the quarterfinals of last year's SAC Tournament.
• The contest marked the first five-set decision at the Abney Center since the Trojans defeated Erskine, 3-2 (22-25, 28-26, 15-25, 25-23, 15-10) on Oct. 15, 2016.
Emily Conlin has posted four double-doubles on the season.
• Learmonth has reached double-figure kills in six of AU's seven contests.
• Carson-Newman holds a 13-12 edge in the overall series.

Anderson will play host to Lincoln Memorial, Saturday afternoon at the Abney Athletic Center. First-serve is scheduled for 2 p.m.