Balanced Attack Propels Trojans Past Catawba

Balanced Attack Propels Trojans Past Catawba

SALISBURY, N.C. – With four players reaching double-figure kills, the Anderson University volleyball team opened a brief two-match road swing by outpacing Catawba, 3-1 (25-18, 25-20, 23-25, 25-11) in South Atlantic conference action, Friday night at Goodman Gymnasium.

Anderson (12-2, 9-1 SAC) extended its win streak to 10 straight and has won 12 of its last 13 decisions, while Catawba (3-9, 2-8 SAC) has dropped five straight decisions and six of its last seven.

"We played very steady in sets one, four and most of two," said Anderson head coach Todd Hay. However, in set three our passing broke down and we had a few miscues on offense when we tried to do too much. I felt like we were trying to force our way back in set three instead of just being who we are. It was really great to see them come together and fix what wasn't working right and play within ourselves in set four to finish off the match."

Sophomore middle hitter Noelle Knutsen led the Trojans with 13 kills behind an impressive .550 hitting percentage. The Parker, Colo., native nearly equaled her season high by recording five block assists on the night. Fellow sophomore Maya Learmonth added 12 kills, with senior middle hitter Hailee Wilhelm tallying 11 kills on the strength of a .370 hitting percentage and posting a season-high three service aces.

Junior right-side hitter Regan Duty notched 11 kills and four block assists, while junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Grube chipped in seven kills with no errors on the night for a .700 hitting accuracy. Senior setter Emily Conlin recorded her seventh double-double of the campaign by handing out 48 assists and coming up with 15 digs. Freshman Lindsay McCurley equaled her season high with 23 digs.

"Our offense was very balanced and Emily did an amazing job of distributing to a variety of attackers," added Hay. "If we can get that type of production from that many hitters, we will be tough to beat moving forward."

First Set
The Trojans scored the first four points of the opening frame and never surrendered the lead, while hitting .297. Learmonth led the way with five kills in the first set, while posting a .364 hitting percentage.

Catawba countered AU's opening surge with a 5-2 run and crawled within just one on five occasions, but was unable to catch the Black and Gold. With the Trojans leading, 19-17, Learmonth sparked a late 6-1 closing run by the Trojans that saw them pull away late for the seven-point win.

Second Set
Duty and Wilhelm led the way with four kills apiece and the Black and Gold again posted a .297 attacking accuracy.

Early back-to-back kills by Duty snapped a 3-3 deadlock and gave the Trojans a lead they would not relinquish. Later leading by three, at 13-10, AU rattled off nine unanswered points to stake an insurmountable, 22-10, lead.

The Indians responded with a 10-2 outburst to climb within four, but could get no closer in the final moments.

Third Set
Despite four kills apiece from Knutsen and Wilhelm, the Trojans stumbled in the third frame and hit just .176.

AU struck early and steadily built a 10-6 advantage, but the Indians countered with a 5-1 run that knotted the score at 11 apiece. They eventually stretched the run to 9-2 and pushed out to a 15-12 edge before the Trojans registered six unanswered points behind Wilhelm's strong serving and reclaimed an 18-15 lead.

The score was tied three more times before Catawba claimed the win on a kill and an ace.

Fourth Set
The Trojans bounced back to post a .567 hitting percentage in the final frame, with Grube notching six of her seven kills on the night in the fourth set.

The frame was tied three times early, before AU capitalized on a pair of Catawba errors and gained some breathing room by doubling up the Indians, at 10-5 on Knutsen's 11th kill of the night. The Trojans went on to build a double-digit, 19-9, cushion on the strength of a 13-4 run and won going away.

The Trojans' .326 hitting percentage was the third-highest of the season.

• The Trojans improved to 6-1 in four-set matches.
• AU has posted a .357 hitting percentage over the last two matches and a .314 attacking accuracy over its last four outings.
• AU holds a 14-5 advantage in the overall series and has won 13 of the last 15 meetings, including six straight.
• Learmonth has reached double-figure kills in seven matches.
• Wilhelm has posted double-digit kills in three of the last five matches and has hit .465 over the last five contests.
• Knutsen has notched double-figure kills in four of AU's last six contests, while hitting .418 over the last five matches.
• McCurley has recorded double-figure digs on eight occasions, including a season-high 23 three times.
• DeVaux has tallied double-figure digs nine times this season.
• Conlin has seven double-doubles and has reached the 40-assist plateau eight times.

Anderson will get back on the court Saturday afternoon, when the Trojans visit Queens. First-serve in Charlotte is scheduled for 2 p.m.