Fast Start Propels Trojans Past Lenoir-Rhyne

Fast Start Propels Trojans Past Lenoir-Rhyne

ANDERSON, S.C. – The Anderson University volleyball team opened the second half of its South Atlantic Conference schedule by sweeping Lenoir-Rhyne, 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-16), Friday night at the Abney Athletic Center.

"We did a pretty good job tonight of winning some longer rallies and picking up a lot of digs," said Anderson head coach Todd Hay. "The 22 digs per set is well above our average so that was a key for us. Also really proud of our outside and right side hitters for being efficient and not pressing too hard. We've been working hard this past week on taking what the situation gives you and they showed that by only committing four errors as a group."

Anderson (14-3, 10-2 SAC) swept the season series with the Bears and has won 12 of its last 13 decisions, while Lenoir-Rhyne (11-8, 6-5 SAC) suffered its fifth setback in the last six outings.

Junior Regan Duty and sophomore Maya Learmonth shared match-high honors with nine kills apiece, while sophomore Noelle Knutsen and senior Hailee Wilhelm each added seven kills apiece, with Wilhelm tallying three block assists and posting a .400 hitting percentage.

Senior Emily Conlin notched a double-double with 33 assists and 18 digs, with freshman Lindsay McCurley recording a team-high 19 digs. Freshman defensive specialist Alexandra Petrilli finished the night with 10 digs.

First Set
With Conlin setting the tone with her serves, the Trojans scored the first six points of the frame and never looked back.

Lenoir-Rhyne chipped away and trimmed the Trojan advantage to just 11-9, but following an AU timeout, Learmonth responded with back-to-back kills and L-R committed an error to give the Trojans some breathing room, at 14-9.

AU claimed a seven-point lead three times and then led by eight on two occasions late, before taking the nine-point victory.

Second Set
The second frame was more balanced and featured nine ties before freshman Taylor Weber's first kill of the set gave AU a 10-9 edge and a lead that the Trojans would not surrender.

AU crept out to a 19-15 advantage on an error by the Bears, but L-R refused to go away, as they climbed within a deuce twice – the second time at 22-20, before the Trojans reached set point with back-to-back kills and claimed the win on a kill from Learmonth.

Third Set
Lenoir-Rhyne fought back in the third set, as the Bears jumped out to an early, 4-1, lead. Following an AU timeout, the Black and Gold used a 6-3 surge to knot the score at seven apiece.

Later with the score deadlocked at 12-12, a kill from Regan Duty ignited a stretch of nine unanswered points by the Trojans and they closed the match by stretching that run to 13-4.

"Our focus now has to shift to a strong Mars Hill who is fighting to remain in the top four in league standings," added Hay. "They are playing some really good volleyball at this point and will be a tough opponent.

• The Trojans improved to 6-1 in three-set matches with their second straight sweep.
• Conlin notched her ninth double-double of the campaign.
• The Trojans stretched their home win streak to 33 straight matches
• AU holds a 14-9 edge in the overall series with the Bears.
• Lenoir-Rhyne junior Taylor Prall, who leads the conference in both kills and kills per set, posted six kills on the night.
• Anderson has won 12 of the last 14 matchups with L-R, including seven straight.
Hailee Wilhelm has posted double-digit kills in four of the last eight matches.
Noelle Knutsen has notched double-figure kills in five of AU's last nine contests.
Lindsay McCurley has recorded double-figure digs 11 times.
• Sophomore Maya Learmonth has reached double-figure kills in nine matches, including three of the last six.

Anderson will welcome Mars Hill to the Abney Center on Saturday for a 2 p.m. first-serve on Homecoming Day.