GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum women's volleyball team won Senior Day in four sets over the Newberry Wolves in front of fans, family, and friends in Pioneer Arena. The Black and Orange now wait for the remaining SAC matches to be played to determine their official seed and destination in the conference tournament.
The Pioneers (15-13, 12-10 SAC) won the match by scores of 25-23, 25-11, 23-25, 25-19 over the Wolves (7-20, 5-17 SAC). With the victory, Tusculum secures a winning season for the first time since 2014.
Toni-Anne Whitlow knocked down 14 kills for the Wolves, as the lone player for Newberry to reach double-figures. Both Taylor Garrison and Olivia Kozemko dished out 15 assists, while Sydney Diaz dug up 15 attacks. Garrison completed her double-double with 12 digs, while Kozemko finished hers with 11 digs. At the line, Katie Ullsperger added two of Newberry's three service aces. In the front row, Sidra Triplett recorded four block assists, while Lacie Wood had three.
Emiah Burrowes rattled off 15 kills on a .323 hitting percentage, followed by senior Tatum Thornton's 12 on a .455 clip. Senior Aubrey Hawkins found open court on 10 swings for a .333 average. Two other seniors, Nevena Pejovic and Gracee Peters, recorded kills with three and two, respectively. Elise Carmichael dished out 33 assists, followed by Catherine Clingan's 18. Behind the service line, Burrowes and Carmichael both launched three service aces, with Burrowes' trifecta coming in succession in the final frame. Carly Sosnowski, Taylor Blythe, Gabby Gray, and Clingan also recorded an ace.
Defensively, Sosnowski finished with a match-high 16 digs, while Gray dug up 12 attacks. Burrowes rounded out her double-double with 10 digs. At the net, Thornton went off for a career-high four solo blocks, alongside a block assist. Gray contributed three total blocks and Blythe assisted on two blocks.
Newberry hit .173 as a team with 42 kills and 20 attack errors in 127 total attempts. Tusculum hit .272 with 61 kills, 21 errors and 147 total attacks. The Pioneers led the Wolves in assists (57-38), aces (10-3), and total blocks (9-6). The conference opponents tied with 57 digs apiece.
The opening four points of the match belong to the Pioneers, led off by a kill from Gray. Newberry went on a five-point run to tie the match at 15-15, stretching the lead to 20-18. Two blocks, courtesy of tag-teams of Blythe/Gray and Thornton/Gray, forced a timeout by the Wolves. A Blythe ace gave the Pioneers a momentarily before a 23-22 Newberry lead. Three straight points, via a Newberry attack error and kills from both Pejovic and Burrowes, gave Tusculum the first set.
Set two was all Tusculum as the Pioneers hit .607 as a team with no attack errors (17-0-28). The frame's last tie occurred at the 7-7 mark before TU scored 18 of the final 22 points, including a 10-point spurt. Over the span, Thornton was responsible for four points on three kills and a solo block. Gray garnered three points on two kills and her own solo block. The 24th and 25th points were thanks to kills from Peters. Thornton collected six kills on nine swings with no errors in the set. Hawkins went 3-for-3 in attempts as well.
The third frame went the way of the Wolves by a score of 25-23. The teams traded points, resulting in seven ties and four lead changes. Tusculum led 22-17 after four straight points on kills from Hawkins, Gray, and Thornton and an ace from Carmichael. Newberry went on an 8-1 run to close the set out.
The Pioneers shot out to a 7-1 advantage with Carmichael starting off the fourth set with a service ace. Tusculum led by seven, due in part to three consecutive aces by Burrowes, to reach a 15-8 score. With set and match point on the line, in storybook fashion, senior Hawkins sealed the result with her 10th kill of the night.
Tusculum awaits the results from other matches played tonight across the league to find out its tournament seed and destination. The South Atlantic Conference quarterfinals will be played on Tuesday night at the higher seed.