GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University women's volleyball team will welcome three in-state opponents during the week: King, Lincoln Memorial, and Carson-Newman. The Tornado, Tuesday's opponent, are in a tie for second in the Conference Carolinas West Division, winning their last five matches. The Railsplitters, Friday's foe, and Carson-Newman, Saturday's competition, are on opposite ends of the SAC standings.
RECAPPING THE WEEK
The Black and Orange went 2-1 in SAC road matches last week. Tusculum swept UVa-Wise in dominant fashion before dropping a tough four-set battle to Mars Hill. The Pioneers made a fifth set comeback to down the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears.
The freshmen duo of Elise Carmichael and Emiah Burrowes set new career-highs in the thriller at Lenoir-Rhyne. Carmichael created new personal marks with 37 assists and 11 digs in her first double-double performance. Burrowes knocked down 22 kills for her best outing, while swinging on a .306 clip.
Gabby Gray led the offense with 40 kills, followed by three teammates at 27 kills: Taylor Blythe, Carli Pigza, and Emiah Burrowes. Blythe finished the 12 sets averaging a .429 hitting percentage. Tatum Thornton (16), Aubrey Hawkins (14), and Gracee Peters (10) reached double-figures in the kill category. Carmichael also recorded a point with a chip shot at Mars Hill, falling in the middle of the Lions' lineup. At the service line, Carmichael and Catherine Clingan both recorded six aces. Gray added a trifecta, along with a pair coming from both Blythe and Carli Sosnowski. Peters and Jordan Zaleski rounded out the column with one apiece.
Defensively, Sosnowski led the team with 63 digs, while Gray was next up with 41. At the net, Tatum Thornton is credited with 11 total blocks (one solo, 10 assists), with Blythe notching nine total (one solo, eight assists). Pigza recorded eight blocks, with seven of them being assists.
The setting duties were primarily shared by Carmichael and Clingan, collecting a combined 131 of 155 assists on the weekend. The freshman Carmichael dished out 86 assists, while the sophomore contributed 45.
Tusculum ranks third in the SAC in assists per set (12.09), assists (955), and kills (1,000). The Pioneers are also in the top half of the conference in eight other statistical categories, including kills per set, hitting percentage, total blocks, and opponent hitting percentage. Individually, Clingan leads the conference in aces per set (.56), good for 10th across Division II. Blythe tops the SAC in hitting percentage at .388, 16th in the division. Sosnowski ranks third in the conference with 5.01 digs per set and fifth with 366 total digs. Gray sits third in the SAC with 235 kills, while Burrowes is sixth with 220.
King (11-7, 7-3 CC) comes to Greeneville to start their full week. All of the Tornado's losses have come away from their home floor. Julie Ward heads up the attack with 229 kills, followed by Tristyn Lozano and Kayley Holtzclaw with over 100 to their credits. Keri Ricker, as the primary setter, sits at 512 assists, averaging exactly eight per set. Ward is also the leading service threat, totaling 28. Defensively, Sydney Pigage has scooped up 239 digs, while Brittney Ramsey holds the slight edge at the net with 58 total blocks (17 solo, 41 assists). Ramsey's blocks per set pace of 1.12 leads Conference Carolinas and Ward's rate of 3.80 kills per set is second. King leads their conference in blocks per set (2.19) and opponent hitting percentage (.146).
King will look to tie the all-time series, spanning from 1985, at 17-all after the Tornado took the match earlier this season. The Bristol team will return to their Conference Carolinas schedule when they host Limestone and Converse for the weekend.
Lincoln Memorial (6-16, 5-10 SAC) travels to Mars Hill on Tuesday before coming to Pioneer Arena on Friday. The Railsplitters will host the UVa-Wise Cavaliers on Saturday. Lindsey Nartker leads the kill category with 204, while three other have surpassed 150. Emily Walter has dished out 723 assists, third in the SAC, at a 8.41 per set mark. At the service line, four Railsplitters have reached the 20-ace precipice, led by Nartker with 28. From the back line, Sarah Jones has totaled 374 digs, third in the conference, and, at the net, Yileen Ng He has collected 61 blocks (seven solo, 54 assists). Rylee Storms is just two solo blocks behind Ng He. Lincoln Memorial ranks in the top half of the SAC in only aces and attacks.
Since the two teams first started playing one another in 1989, Lincoln Memorial leads the series 35-26 over the Pioneers after the Railsplitters took the season's previous meeting via a sweep in Harrogate.
Carson-Newman (16-6, 10-5 SAC) has a full week of travel, with stops at Lenoir-Rhyne, UVa-Wise, and Tusculum. The offensive attack is led by Marnie Streeter's 228 kills, while two others are nearing the 200-kill mark. Elena Vasquez has handed out 326 assists, while two teammates have surpassed 200. Morgan Ballard leads up the ace and dig categories with 30 and 431, respectively. Katie Parnell's SAC-leading 100 total blocks are made up of three solo and 97 assists. The Eagles are fifth nationally and second in the SAC allowing an opponent hitting percentage of .107. They also rank second in the conference and 10th divisionally averaging 2.46 blocks per set. Carson-Newman is also top-20 nationally in aces per set, total blocks, and aces. Individually, Parnell's 1.28 blocks per set is second in the SAC and 10th across Division II, while her total block number is 16th nationally.
Since the two teams' first meeting in 1986, Carson-Newman will seek to even the all-time series at 30 after the Eagles swept Tusculum in mid-September.
Links to live stats and video for Tusculum University athletic events can be found through tusculumpioneers.com.