CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Elon volleyball team (8-7) claimed the 2013 49er Invitational after wins over South Carolina State (0-12) and Charlotte (9-5) today, Sept. 21, in Halton Arena. The Phoenix earned a sweep over the Bulldogs, 3-0 (25-19, 25-11, 25-18), early in the day and finished with 3-1 win (22-25, 25-17, 27-25, 25-19) over the 49ers in the final match. At the conclusion of the tournament junior Kris Harris, senior Cali Estes and sophomore Megan Gravley were all named to the 49er Invitational team with Harris being named the MVP.
“We came out slow this match but once we got going we were a tough team to stop,” said Elon head coach Mary Tendler. “The energy from our side of the court was incredible and helped us to get the victory and the championship. This was a great way to head into conference play.”
Elon 3, South Carolina State 0
With Elon trailing 6-5 in the first set, the Bulldogs managed seven straight to extend its lead to eight. From there, a kill by Danielle Smith sparked a 10-2 run, capped by an ace by Chanelle Smith, to give the Phoenix the edge. The maroon and gold continued its streak by claiming the next three points to move its advantage to four, 19-15. Two kills by Kayla Agae helped close out the set and give the Phoenix a 25-19 win.
A block by Estes and Harris capped a 4-0 run early for the Phoenix in the second set to put Elon up 6-2. After SCSU closed the gap to one, 6-5, a block by Estes and Ally Karle, ace by Morgan Maner and a kill by Harris helped the maroon and gold to five straight for a lead of six, 11-5. Kills by Gravley kept Elon ahead of the Bulldogs and extended its advantage to 12, 21-9. A kill by Harris, ace by C. Smith and a block by Gravley and Harris sealed a 25-11 victory to give the Phoenix a 2-0 match lead.
Two kills by Harris and two aces by D. Smith in the third set gave the maroon and gold a 6-2 lead. The Bulldogs would later cut its deficit to one, 18-17, forcing Elon to call a timeout. Two kills by C. Smith and one by Gravley helped Elon back to a lead of three, 21-18, causing SCST to call a timeout of its own. The Phoenix scored the final four points of the set off a block by Harris and D. Smith, two kills by D. Smith and one by C. Smith to take the win, 25-18.
Harris hit .579 after a match-high 12 kills off 19 attempts and only one error. D. Smith and Gravley both finished with nine kills. Estes recorded 31 assists to average 10.3 per set and posted a career-high six blocks. Harris also posted six blocks in the match.
Elon 3, Charlotte 1
With the 49ers holding a three-point lead in the first set, kills by Harris, Agae and an ace by D. Smith pulled the Phoenix within one, 8-7. Two more kills and an ace by Harris kept Elon within two until Charlotte managed to score six straight to extend its advantage to eight, 18-10. Two kills and a block by Gravley, a kill by Head and a combined block by the two sophomores gave the maroon and gold the next five points to pull within three. A kill by D. Smith put the Phoenix within two, 19-17, but the 49ers would hold on to win 25-22.
In the second set, kills by Gravley, Head and D. Smith put Elon up early, 6-3. With the score tied at 10-all, a kill by Gravley and a block by Harris and Gravley gave the Phoenix a three-point edge once again, 13-10, forcing a Charlotte timeout. Still leading by three, the Phoenix used a kill by D. Smith and Agae, a block by Head and Agae and an ace by Maner to extend the advantage to seven, 20-13. A kill by Harris followed by a block by Harris and Agae helped close out the set to give Elon a 25-17 win and even the match.
Kills by Harris and Gravley and a block by Head and Estes put the maroon and gold ahead early in the fourth, 4-1. With the scored tied at 11-all, both teams traded points back and forth until Charlotte went up by two, 19-17. Elon answered with three straight with the help of kills by Agae and Estes to take the advantage, 20-19. The 49ers would reach set point first, 24-22, but kills by C. Smith, Harris and Gravley put Elon in position to win, 25-24. A block by Harris and Estes and then a kill by Gravley would give the Phoenix a 27-25 victory and the match lead, 2-1.
In the fourth set, a kill by Agae and an ace by D. Smith gave Elon a quick 4-0 lead to force a Charlotte timeout. Leading by three, 9-6, kills by Gravley, D. Smith and Agae extended the Phoenix edge to seven, 13-6. Back-to-back kills by Harris gave Elon as much as an eight-point lead, 16-8. The 49ers closed the gap to three, 20-17, but that was as close as Charlotte would get as the Phoenix claimed a 25-19 win and the match.
Harris led all players with 16 kills after 24 attempts and only two errors. Agae finished with a new career-high 13 kills, while Gravley also tallied 13 kills. Estes also marked a new career high with 48 assists.
On defense, Head recorded a match-high five blocks, while Harris and Gravley each contributed three.
Elon will begin Southern Conference play on Friday, Sept. 27, at Georgia Southern in a 6 p.m. match in Statesboro, Ga.