ANDERSON, S.C. – With four players posting season-highs in kills and senior setter Emily Conlin nearly posting a triple double, the Anderson University volleyball team wrapped up its brief two-match South Atlantic Conference homestand by topping Lincoln Memorial, 3-2 (22-25, 26-24, 23-25, 30-28, 16-14) Saturday afternoon at the Abney Athletic Center.
"We are definitely a work in progress but we have good pieces with which to work," said Anderson head coach Todd Hay. "The belief that we will find a way to win is pretty strong with this team and that's fun to see. However, we all know we need to limit some critical errors at critical times. Once we can clean up a few things, I believe we can get into a rhythm. Thanks a lot to all our fans that came out on a Saturday. It was a lot of fun."
Anderson improved to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the conference with its fourth straight victory and sixth win in seven outings, while Lincoln Memorial fell to 2-6 and 2-3 with its third consecutive setback.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Senior Hailee Wilhelm led all players with a season-high 17 kills, while freshman Taylor Weber posted a season-best 15 kills in the win. Sophomore middle Noelle Knutsen knocked down a season-high nine kills and added five block assists, with sophomore Maya Learmonth tallying nine kills.
Conlin dished out a season-high 53 assists and came up with 13 digs while narrowly missing a triple-double by knocking down a season-high nine kills. The Glendale, Ariz., native recorded a .750 hitting percentage by recording the nine kills with no errors in 12 attempts. Freshman Lindsay McCurley equaled a season-high with five aces and notched a team-high 17 digs on the day. Sophomore Meghan DeVaux added 14 digs in the win.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Neither team was especially effective on the attack with LMU recording a .136 hitting percentage and the Trojans struggling to overcome seven attack errors and notching a .139 hitting percentage.
The opening frame saw nine ties with the Lady Railsplitters snapping a late 21-21 deadlock and claiming the win by scoring four of the final five points.
The score was knotted three times in the second set, but the Trojans scored the first four points of the frame and jumped out to an early 10-5 advantage behind four kills from Wilhelm and a pair of kills from Knutsen.
While hitting .276, AU built a 13-6 cushion and led 16-12 before LMU rattled off four straight points to even the score for the first time at 16 apiece. After the teams traded brief two-point runs, Conlin posted a kill and followed with an ace, while Wilhelm closed the three-point surge with a kill. Wilhelm followed a Railsplitter point with another kill and AU capitalized on an LMU miscue to claim a 23-19 edge.
But LMU responded with a 5-1 run to even the score at 24-24, before Weber notched her eighth kill of the day and the Trojans evened the match at one set apiece on another LMU error.
The score was tied five times early, before a block by Wilhelm and back-to-back kills from Weber and Wilhelm, along with a block from Weber, boosted the Black and Gold to a 12-8 advantage.
The Trojans still led, 15-10, when LMU scored four unanswered points to climb within just one. A kill from junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Grube slowed the Railsplitters and the Trojans steadily pushed out to a 20-16 lead on a solo block by Conlin.
LMU stayed within striking distance behind a 4-1 run and eventually closed out the set with four consecutive points.
The Trojans again answered the bell – this time by building an early 9-4 lead – the largest by either team in the set - while LMU again countered by posting an 8-1 outburst to claim their largest lead of the frame, at 12-10.
The teams continued to battle back-and-forth, with AU taking its first lead since 9-8 on a kill by Wilhelm and an LMU error that gave the Trojans a 20-18 edge. The 'Splitters answered with three consecutive points and the lead changed hands five times down the stretch before Wilhelm's 16th kill of the afternoon evened the score at 28 apiece and AU forced a fifth and deciding set by taking advantage of two straight LMU attack errors.
As it was throughout the afternoon, the two teams battled throughout the final frame, with the set featuring 11 ties and neither squad taking more than a two-point lead.
With the score deadlocked at 14-14, the Trojans used a kill from Weber and another LMU attack error to take the win.
ANDERSON STAT OF THE GAME
Led by Knutsen's five block assists, the Trojans' knocked down a season-high 11.0 total blocks.
• Neither team was able to build more than a seven-point lead on the day.
• AU extended its home win streak to 30 consecutive matches.
• After not playing a five-setter at the Abney Athletic Center since Oct. 15, 2016, the Trojans have played two in less than 24 hours.
• The Trojans improved to 2-0 on the season in five-set decisions.
• Emily Conlin was one kill away from posting a triple double.
• Conlin has posted five double-doubles on the season, including four straight.
• AU recorded a season-high 71 kills on the afternoon.
• The Trojans' 63 assists marked a season-high.
• Behind McCurley's five service aces, AU equaled the second-highest tally of the season (11).
• Lincoln Memorial holds a 16-11 edge in the overall series.
• Conlin equaled a career-best 60 assists in a five-set win at Lincoln Memorial last October.
Following a five-day layoff, Anderson will go back on the road for a challenging three-match road swing, beginning at Lenoir-Rhyne on Friday night. First-serve versus the Bears in Hickory, N.C., is slated for 7 p.m.