GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Catawba College women's volleyball team jumped out to a two-set lead but had to hold off a furious rally as the Catawba Indians edged Tusculum University 3-2 in South Atlantic Conference action on Saturday.
Catawba (8-20, 4-13 SAC) won the match by scores of 25-21, 29-27, 21-25, 27-29, 15-12 to avenge its home loss to Tusculum (6-17, 4-13 SAC) and snapping the Pioneers' three-match winning streak.
Catawba setter Morgan Hester had a phenomenal showing as she recorded 69 assists and 23 digs to go along with her three kills, four service aces and two blocks. Kylie Morgan led the Tribe with her 25 kills and 27 digs, while Allie Grubb contributed 21 kills, four blocks and posted a .486 hitting percentage (21-3-37).
TU senior libero Melissa Mazur finished with a career-high 46 digs, which are the third-most in program history for a five-set match and fourth-most overall. The 46-dig effort eclipses the previous personal high of 44 digs at Lander in 2015.
Tusculum had four players finish with double-digit kills led by Gabby Gray's 19 while Cassie Born added 16 kills with her 14 digs and four blocks. Carli Pigza had 10 kills and six blocks (3 solos, 3 assists), while Taylor Blythe had 10 kills and six blocks in her three sets of play. Blythe would finish the match with a .320 hitting percentage.
Catawba hit .223 as a team with 80 kills and 29 errors in 229 total attempts. Tusculum hit. .205 with 65 kills, 20 errors and 220 total attacks which are the eighth-most in school history (5-set match).
Tusculum tallied 10 service aces including four from Catherine Clingan who took over the setter duties in the third set. She would finish with 29 assists and nine digs, while Alyssa Rojas tallied 26 assists and five digs for the Pioneers.
TU finished the match with 15 total team blocks (5 solos, 20 assists) as Tatum Thornton followed her nine block performance on Friday with eight rejections against Catawba.
The Indians came out on fire winning the first set 25-21 as Catawba hit for a sizzling .348 with 20 kills, four errors and 46 attempts. TU hit a respectable .179 (12-5-39) in the opening frame.
The second set was a war with featured 18 ties and eight lead changes between the two teams. The largest lead enjoyed by either side was three as TU led 14-11 and Catawba held a 24-21 lead. Tusculum fought off three set points and took a 25-24 lead thanks to a 4-0 run. With the score tied at 27-27, Catawba's Morgan recorded a kill and Micah Ensor followed with another as the visitors won 29-27 to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
In the third set, Catawba was looking to sweep jumping out to a 6-0 run which included back-to-back aces from Hester to start the frame. The Pioneers followed with a 5-1 spurt to cut the deficit to 7-5 and forcing a Catawba timeout. The Indians led 11-7 but TU used a 6-2 run to tie the set at 13-13 follow an ace from Gray. The score would be knotted five more times including 19-19 after a Grubb kill. TU would close out the set with a 6-2 run to win 25-21.
The fourth set was another marathon with 12 ties and three lead changes. Catawba held a 10-8 before the Pioneers scored six straight to go up 14-10 following a Blythe kill. TU increased the lead to 17-11 and led 21-17. The Catawba inched their way back and tied the score at 24-24 following a Benton kill. The score would be tied three more times until Gray recorded a kill and Blythe posted a solo block on set-point as TU prevailed 29-27 to force a deciding set.
In the fifth frame, TU vaulted out to a 5-2 lead as Catawba called a timeout. Tusculum would later lead 8-6 before the Tribe scored four straight to lead 10-8. The Pioneers cut the deficit to 12-11, but Catawba would close out the win with a 3-1 run for a 15-12 triumph to clinch the match.
Tusculum will play its final home match on Tuesday when the Pioneers host Mars Hill for a 7 p.m. match.