ANDERSON, S.C. – The Anderson University volleyball team nearly rallied from a two-set deficit, but suffered its first home loss in nearly four seasons, as league-leading Wingate upended the Trojans, 3-2 (25-19, 25-19, 19-25, 10-25, 15-9) in the opening contest of a four-match South Atlantic Conference homestand, Friday night at the Abney Athletic Center.
"We showed a lot of fight and our crowd was amazing but we just came up a bit short," said Anderson head coach Todd Hay. "I was proud of how we played after being down two sets but Wingate made some great plays in set five to earn the victory. Our team has not yet peaked and I do feel like we are playing better overall as the season goes on."
Anderson (18-4, 14-3 SAC) saw its win streak halted at six matches is now tied with Queens for second place in the conference standings. Wingate (23-1, 16-1 SAC) claimed its fourth consecutive victory and won a regular-season contest at the Abney Center for the first time since the 2015 campaign. The Bulldogs tightened their grip on first place in the league stands, as WU now leads Anderson and Queens by two games, with five to go in the regular season.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Senior Hailee Wilhelm, the reigning SAC Player of the Week, led the Trojans with 12 kills behind a .435 hitting percentage, with sophomore Maya Learmonth adding 11 kills. Junior Regan Duty posted nine kills and three block assists, while sophomore Noelle Knutsen recorded seven kills and seven total blocks. Freshman Taylor Weber also chipped in seven kills along with three block assists.
Senior Emily Conlin handed out a match-high 38 assists and notched her 14th double-double of the season with a team-high 18 digs. Freshman Lindsay McCurley came up with 16 digs and five assists, while junior Christina Stacy posted 15 digs. Sophomore Meghan DeVaux tallied 13 digs and three service aces, with freshman Alexandra Petrilli coming up with 11 digs on the night.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Wingate posted five service aces in the opening frame and outhit the Trojans .206 to.143, with Wilhelm posting five of her kills in the first set.
After a back-and forth start in front of a raucous Abney Center crowd, Wingate's Treslyn Ortiz posted back-to-back service aces to give the Bulldogs an 11-9 advantage and the visitors would not relinquish the lead.
While falling behind by four, the Trojans trimmed the deficit to just 18-17 on Learmonth's first kill of the night, but AU was unable to overtake the Bulldogs, as they pushed out to a late six-point lead.
The 'Dogs opened the set on a 5-1 run, with the Trojans chipping away and knotting the score three times before Wingate used a late, 7-2, surge to turn a narrow 18-17 edge into the six-point win.
With Duty and Knutsen combining for eight kills, the Trojans turned the tables on Wingate in the third frame.
After falling behind early, Duty and Knutsen combined for a block that gave the Trojans an 8-7 advantage and the Black and Gold rolled out to a double-digit, 20-10, lead. Wingate climbed to within five points late, but could get no closer, as Knutsen sandwiched a pair of kills around a block by the Bulldogs for AU's final two points.
The Trojans carried the momentum over into the fourth set and kept the pressure on behind a .273 hitting percentage.
On the strength of McCurley's strong serves and fueled by a pair of kills from Wilhelm, the Trojans bolted out to a 15-3 lead and never looked back. AU steadily built a 20-7 cushion and closed out the win by posting five of the next eight points.
AU gained a quick, 3-1, lead but Wingate responded with a 6-1 run and the Trojans were unable to regain their footing, as the defending conference champions held onto the lead the rest of the way.
ANDERSON STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Trojans saw their home win streak snapped at 36 straight matches, while dropping a home match for the first time since Oct. 18, 2016.
• The Trojans are 4-2 in five-set matches this season.
• Wingate snapped a three-match losing skid at the Abney Center, winning for the first time in the Electric City for the first time since Nov. 14, 2015.
• Despite the setback, The Trojans have won 16 of their last 18 outings.
• Meghan DeVaux has reached double-figure digs in three straight matches.
• Lindsay McCurley has totaled double-digit digs in nine consecutive matches.
• Maya Learmonth has posted double-figure kills in three straight contests.
The Trojans will look to get back in the win column when they play host to Coker on Saturday afternoon. First-serve versus the Cobras is slated for 2 p.m. at the Abney Center.