GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum women's volleyball team swept the Anderson Trojans on Alumni Night in front of a passionate Pioneer Arena. The Black and Orange now sit in a three-way tie for fifth in the South Atlantic Conference standings, going into the regular season finale.
The Pioneers (14-13, 11-10 SAC) won the match by scores of 26-24, 25-15, 25-19 over the Trojans (20-6, 16-5 SAC). With the victory, Tusculum solidifies a No. 5-8 seed in the upcoming SAC Tournament.
Hailee Wilhelm collected nine kills, followed by Kaitlyn Grube's six. Three Trojans hit in the negative for the match. Emily Conlin added to her program-record career assist mark with 26 in the outing. Meghan DeVaux added two service aces, while Conlin completed her double-double with 15 digs. Five Trojans participated in a block, with Grube recording the lone solo block.
Gabby Gray led the Pioneer offense with 11 kills, just ahead of Emiah Burrowes' 10. Gray fired on a .417 clip, as did Taylor Blythe with her six kills. Tatum Thornton also landed six kills on the night. Elise Carmichael led the setters with 18 assists, followed by Catherine Clingan with 14. At the service line, seven Pioneers recorded an ace: Carly Sosnowski, Blythe, Gray, Burrowes, Cameron McAbee, Carmichael, and Clingan.
Defensively, Gray rounded out her double-double with a team-high 14 digs. Sosnowski followed up with 13 digs. At the net, Thornton reigned supreme, notching five blocks, including two monster solo blocks. Blythe added three blocks (one solo, two assists), while Burrowes is credited with two assists. Aubrey Hawkins recorded a solo and a block assist as well.
Anderson hit .056 as a team, its second-lowest of the season, with 31 kills and 25 attack errors in 107 total attempts. Tusculum hit .267 with 39 kills, 12 errors and 101 total attacks. The Pioneers led the Trojans in assists (38-30), aces (7-3), and total blocks (9-3). The conference opponents tied with 45 digs apiece.
Tonight's opening set featured 11 ties and four lead changes in a nerve-wracking 26-24 finish. Carli Pigza started the match with a kill, but Anderson went out to a 7-3 lead. Tusculum closed the gap with three straight points via a Gray kill, Blythe solo block, and a kill from Burrowes. The Pioneers led the set 24-22 before the Trojans crept back to bring the score to 24-all. Two consecutive attack errors by the visitors gifted set one to Tusculum.
The second set was all Tusculum as Anderson hit a measly -.037 for the set to the Pioneer's .333. Just six ties and two lead changes happened in the frame. Once again, Pigza led off the set with a kill, but Anderson rattled off four-straight points. After the 10-10 tie, the Pioneers notched six points in a row through kills from Gray and Thornton, Carmichael's ace, two attack errors, and a ball handling error by Colin. The teams traded a few points until the score was 20-15. Tusculum tallied the final five points by two kills from Blythe, a block by Blythe and Hawkins, an attack error, and the set-clincher was a service ace from Clingan.
Looking to continue the night, the Trojans jumped out to a 7-4 lead after scoring the first three points of the third set. Tusculum responded with five points to grab the lead. The Pioneers had the lead for good after a kill by Gray to make the score 17-16. Anderson battled back to an 19-18 deficit but the Pioneers had the match well in hand, hitting .423 in the set. The final play to sweep the Trojans was a mammoth block, tag-teamed by Thornton and Burrowes, causing Pioneer Arena to erupt at the triumph.
Tusculum wraps up the regular season tomorrow, hosting Newberry in a Senior Day clash. The six seniors will be honored prior to first serve, which is scheduled for 2pm.