HICKORY, N.C. – With four players reaching double-figure kills for the first time this season, the Anderson University volleyball team defeated Lenoir-Rhyne, 3-1 (17-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-20) in South Atlantic Conference action, Friday night at Shuford Memorial Gymnasium.
"This was a good road win at a tough opponent," said Anderson head coach Todd Hay. "I was really proud of how we bounced back after a shaky first set. We just talked about minimizing our unforced errors and staying aggressive offensively. Lenoir-Rhyne was doing a solid job a defending our middles but our pin hitters stepped up in a big way."
Anderson (7-2, 5-1 SAC), which was coming off a five-day layoff, has posted five consecutive victories and has won seven of its last eight decisions. Lenoir-Rhyne (8-3, 4-3 SAC) has dropped two of its last three decisions.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Junior Regan Duty led the Trojans with a season-high 14 kills, while freshman hitter Taylor Weber equaled a season-high with a dozen kills. Junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Grube posted a season-best 11 kills, with sophomore middle blocker Noelle Knutsen also notching a season-high 11 kills on the strength of a .421 hitting percentage.
Senior setter Emily Conlin notched a double-double by equaling a season-high with 53 assists and recording a season-best 21 digs. She also posted three block assists. Freshman defensive specialist Lindsay McCurley came up with a match-high 23 digs. Junior Christina Stacy and freshman Alexandra Petrilli each recorded eight digs apiece.
"From set two on, I felt like we played a fairly steady match and came up with some key digs when we needed them," added Hay. "Coach Smith called a good service game and the players responded well. Hopefully we carry this momentum over to Mars Hill."
HOW IT HAPPENED
Lenoir-Rhyne posted a .278 hitting percentage and overcame three three-point leads by the Trojans to claim the opening set by the eight-point margin.
A service error by the Bears gave AU a 10-7 advantage, but L-R countered with three straight points before the Trojans responded with three unanswered of their own to rebuild a 13-10 advantage. With AU holding the tenuous three-point edge, the Bears posted a 9-1 scoring outburst to claim a five-point lead.
After the Trojans closed the gap to just 20-17, Lenoir-Rhyne scored the final five points of the frame to claim the win.
With Taylor leading the way with five of her kills coming in the second frame, the Trojans came out with a vengeance. AU swiped the early momentum by jumping out to a quick 9-3 lead and forcing a timeout by the Bears. Conlin opened the set with back-to-back aces and fellow senior Hailee Wilhelm later added another ace.
Behind a .278 hitting percentage, AU built a double-digit, 19-9, lead on a ball-handling miscue by the Bears and posted an impressive .393 attack percentage for the set.
The Trojans kept the pressure on in the third set, as Grube knocked down four kills to fuel an early 12-4 run by the Black and Gold.
Lenoir-Rhyne later used a 10-3 surge to trim AU's cushion to just 16-15, but back-to-back kills by Duty and Grube, followed by an ace from Petrilli gave the Trojans some breathing room. AU claimed a 22-16 advantage on consecutive aces by Meghan DeVaux and won the set going away.
Duty and Weber each posted five kills apiece in the decisive fourth set, as the Trojans doubled up Lenoir-Rhyne, 12-6, in the early going.
AU equaled the six-point lead on four more occasions down the stretch and claimed the match on a kill from Duty.
ANDERSON STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Trojans' 57 kills equaled their third-highest total of the season.
• McCurley has tallied double-figure digs five times this season, including three straight.
• Freshman Taylor Weber has reached double-figure kills in two consecutive matches.
• Conlin has recorded six double-doubles this season.
• The Trojans improved to 5-1 in games away from the Abney Athletic Center this season.
• Conlin and McCurley lead the Trojans with 15 service aces on the season.
• L-R junior Taylor Prall, a two-time SAC Player of the Week this season recorded a match-high 16 kills.
• Anderson has won 11 of the last 13 matchups with the Bears, including six straight.
• AU improved to 4-1 in four-set decisions this season.
The Trojans will travel to Mars Hill on Saturday. First-serve versus the Lions at Stanford Arena is set for 5 p.m.