GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum women's volleyball team swept the King Tornado Tuesday night in front of a roaring crowd in Pioneer Arena. The Black and Orange finished with a season-high hitting percentage, alongside a dominant defense, in the non-conference meeting.
The Pioneers (12-10, 9-7 SAC) won the match by scores of 25-14, 25-11, 26-24 over the Tornado (11-8, 7-3 CC). With the victory, Tusculum moves to 6-2 in the friendly confines of Pioneer Arena.
Julie Ward led King with six kills, while 14 of the 17 assists were dished out by Keri Ricker. Sydney Pigage notched two service aces and finished with a team-high eight digs. Ward and Brittney Ramsey are credited two block assists each at the net.
Gabby Gray stunned King, collecting 13 kills on a .571 clip with just one error. Emiah Burrowes also excelled with 13 kills on a .321 tear. Carli Pigza contributed nine kills in the victory. Elise Carmichael led the setting duo with 24 assists, while Catherine Clingan notched 15. At the service line, six Pioneers recorded an ace.
Defensively, Carly Sosnowski was the lone player in tonight's match to be credited with double-digit digs, racking up 15. Gray was just a dig shy of a double-double, scooping up nine. At the net, Taylor Blythe notched the lone solo block for the Pioneers, while also recording three block assists. Tatum Thornton and Pigza both finished with a pair of assists.
King hit .000 as a team with 19 kills and 19 attack errors in 85 total attempts. Tusculum hit .354, the highest mark of the season, with 46 kills, 12 errors and 96 total attacks. The Pioneers led the Tornado in assists (43-17), digs (41-33), aces (6-3), and total blocks (6-4). The 19 kills allowed by Tusculum are tied for the lowest amount on the season, while it was the defense's second time holding a team to an even hitting percentage thus far.
The only lead change in the first set occurred when Tusculum gained the 3-2 advantage. After the Pioneers reached double-figures, the lead escalated quickly. The Black and Orange proceeded to win 15 of the next 23 points, claiming the set 25-14. Gray led the way with six kills on nine swings (6-0-9), while Burrowes contributed five kills (5-1-8). King was only able to amass three kills in the frame, earning a negative hitting percentage, to the Pioneers 16 and .433 average.
The Pioneers shot out to a four-nothing lead to begin the second frame, starting a kill from Pigza and an ace from Gray. Tusculum never allowed a tie or relented the lead throughout the set, and finished with a .464 hitting percentage. Sosnowski racked up seven digs in the span, more than nearly all of the Tornado had on the night. The advantage went to eight (17-8) after the Pioneers notched six consecutive points, including three kills from Gray and two from Pigza. The final five points went the way of Tusculum with two coming from the right hand of Burrowes. King only garnered four kills in the set.
Set three was the most competitive of the night, with Tusculum just squeaking out the final two points to claim the match. King held a 2-1 advantage until the Pioneers took the next seven scores. The Tornado retaliated with six straight points of their own. The Black and Orange went on a seven-of-eight spurt before the Bristol team fired off seven consecutive points. King went on to hold set point but a tag-team block from Pigza and Blythe tied the frame at 24. An attack error gave the advantage to the home team and the deal was sealed via a massive block from Blythe and Aubrey Hawkins.
Tusculum hosts the Railsplitters of Lincoln Memorial on Friday night, who have lost four consecutive games and sit eighth in the SAC standings.