MARS HILL, N.C. – The Anderson University volleyball team overcame a sluggish start and pushed its win streak to six straight, as the Trojans knocked off Mars Hill in four sets, 3-1 (21-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-19) in South Atlantic Conference play late Saturday afternoon at Stanford Arena.
Anderson improved to 8-2 overall and 6-1 in the league with its eighth win in nine decisions and moved into sole possession of second place in the conference standings. Mars Hill (6-5, 5-3 SAC) has dropped two of its last three outings.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Junior Regan Duty led all players with a season-high 16 kills on the strength of a .389 hitting percentage, while senior Hailee Wilhelm added 15 kills behind a .423 hitting percentage. Sophomore Noelle Knutsen posted a season-high 14 kills and recorded five block assists, with junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Grube notching 10 kills and six digs.
Senior Emily Conlin dished out a season-high 54 assists and narrowly missed her seventh double-double by tallying eight digs. Freshman Lindsay McCurley shared match-high honors with 23 digs, while classmate Alexandra Petrilli added a season-best 17 digs. Sophomore Meghan DeVaux tallied 15 digs and junior Christina Stacy added nine digs on the afternoon.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The first frame was tied nine times and featured five lead changes, with the Trojans falling behind early, but never by more than the final four-point margin.
Duty's second kill of the frame gave AU a 14-13 edge – just its third lead of the set – before the Lions countered with four consecutive points to claim a 17-14 advantage and force a Trojan timeout. Following the break, AU responded with a 6-1 outburst behind a pair of kills from Knutsen and took a 20-18 lead, before Mars Hill closed out the set on a 7-1 run to take the win.
The Trojans fell behind by five early, but chipped away and knotted the score at 7-7 on back-to-back kills from Grube, before Mars Hill pushed back out to a 13-10 lead.
AU capitalized on a kill from Wilhelm and two straight kills from Duty to even the score for the third time, at 13 apiece, then used an error by the Lions to finally gain its first lead of the set and Duty's seventh kill of the afternoon gave the Trojans a two-point lead (16-14).
Three consecutive points gave the lead back to the Lions and the score was deadlocked two more times before AU took advantage of another Mars Hill miscue to take a lead it would not relinquish, at 19-18, and closed out the frame with a decisive run.
AU snapped an early 5-5 deadlock on Grube's second kill of the set and held at least a one-point lead until the Lions evened the score at 16 apiece and took a slim lead on back-to-back service aces.
The lead changed two more times before Wilhelm knocked down a kill to fuel three straight points by the Trojans, with the Columbus, Ohio, native capping the surge with a service ace. Mars Hill battled back to even the score at 23-23, before Knutsen and Conlin combined on a block and Conlin clinched the win with her third kill of the day.
With the final frame deadlocked at 7-7, Knutsen posted three straight kills to ignite a stretch of eight unanswered points for the Black and Gold, with DeVaux notching a pair of aces during the decisive outburst.
The Lions were unable to get any closer than four points the rest of the way.
ANDERSON STAT OF THE DAY
Four Trojan players reached double-figure kills for the second straight outing.
• Wilhelm has posted double-figure kills in two of the last three matches.
• AU has won seven straight past the Lions.
• Duty has recorded 30 kills in the last two matches.
• Knutsen has notched double-figure kills in back-to-back matches.
• The Trojans improved to 6-2 in games away from the Abney Athletic Center this season.
• Grube has recorded double-figure kills in two straight matches and four of the last five.
• DeVaux has tallied double-figure digs in eight matches this season.
• MHU senior Senior SallyAnne Johnson, who was named Preseason First-Team All-SAC, notched a team-high 15 kills on the day.
• McCurley has tallied double-figure digs six times this season, including four straight.
• AU improved to 4-1 in four-set decisions this season.
Anderson will wrap up its three-game road swing by visiting longtime rival Erskine, Tuesday night. First-serve versus the Flying Fleet in Die West is slated for 7 p.m.