Lenoir-Rhyne picks up victory over Pioneers

Lenoir-Rhyne picks up victory over Pioneers

HICKORY, N.C. --- Angelica Arroyo had 18 kills to lead Lenoir-Rhyne University to a 3-0 victory over Tusculum University in South Atlantic Conference volleyball action at Shuford Gymnasium Friday night. Set scores were 30-28, 25-14 and 25-20.

Taylor Prall added 10 kills for the Bears (11-3, 5-2 SAC), who hit .288 as a team in the match. Helen Hamilton led Lenoir-Rhyne with 38 assists and 11 digs, while Madison Asher had a team-high five blocks.

Cassie Born and Carli Pigza paced the Pioneers (2-10, 0-6 SAC) with nine kills each, while Taylor Blythe added seven kills. Emily Lawless led the attack with 28 assists and added nine digs, with Melissa Mazur leading all players with 15 digs in the match.

The first set was a back-and-forth battle, with each team surviving multiple set points to extend it past the 25-point threshold. The Bears went up 6-3, only to see the Pioneers come back to level the set at 6-6. Tusculum took an 11-8 lead, but a 5-1 run for Lenoir-Rhyne sent the Bears ahead 13-12.

Neither team would lead by more than two points until an attack error by the Bears gave the Pioneers a 22-19 lead. A kill by Tatum Thornton put Tusculum on the cusp of the set win at 24-22, but kills from Prall and Arroyo allowed Lenoir-Rhyne to tie the set at 24-24.

The Bears staved off two more set points at 24-25 and 25-26, going up 27-26 before the Pioneers got kills from Blythe and Born to go ahead 28-27. However, the Bears would tie the score again on a kill by Arroyo, followed by back-to-back kills by Prall to close the set at 30-28.

Set two saw Lenoir-Rhyne bounce to a quick 5-0 lead, then extend the margin to 11-1 behind four straight kills by Arroyo. Tusculum tried to rally with a 5-1 run midway through the set, but the Bears collected the final four points to capture the second set 25-14. Lenoir-Rhyne hit .379 as a team in the set.

In the third set, the Pioneers went up 3-1 but the Bears came back to knot the score at 4-4. Lenoir-Rhyne rattled off five consecutive points to go ahead 10-5, but the Pioneers surged back to even the set at 12-12 on a kill by Pigza. However, the Bears scored the next four points and the Pioneers would pull no closer than three as Lenoir-Rhyne finished the sweep with a 25-20 set victory.

The Pioneers finished the match with eight blocks as a team, led by four from Pigza and three from Thornton. For the Bears, Asher had a match-high three service aces and also contributed six digs.

Tusculum will return to Pioneer Arena to host local rival Carson-Newman on Tuesday at 7 p.m.