ELON, N.C. – Led by senior Cali Estes’ triple-double, the Elon University volleyball team rallied from a 2-1 deficit to earn a thrilling 3-2 (25-19, 19-25, 29-31, 25-23, 16-14) victory over Furman tonight, Oct. 25, at Alumni Gym. The Phoenix improved to 14-11 overall and 5-4 in the Southern Conference, while the Paladins are 11-9 and 7-2 during league play.
“We played really well tonight against a very good team,” said Elon head coach Mary Tendler. “Our hitters took big swings both in and out of system and we worked hard defensively. It will take another big effort tomorrow to get a win against Wofford.”
Estes had 21 kills to lead the Phoenix attack offensively and also had 26 assists and 12 digs. Megan Gravely established a new season-high in kills with 19, followed by Kayla Agae’s 14. Maggie Reichard helped set the tone defensively with her season-best 27 digs, while Chanelle Smith joined Estes and Reichard in double-digit digs with 10.
In the first set with the match tied at 10-all, Elon went on a 7-3 run thanks to a pair of kills by Estes and another by Gravely. The Paladins would pull back within two, 17-15, but kills by Estes, Agae, Danielle Smith and Catherine Head sparked a 4-1 run to give the Phoenix a 21-16 cushion and eventually a 25-19 win in the opening game.
The Paladins held a four-point lead in the second set, 19-15, before a few miscues and a kill by Estes brought the maroon and gold within two, 20-18. Elon managed one more point before the Paladins went on and claimed the 25-19 victory and tied the match at 1-1.
The third set went down to the wire, as neither team could break free of another. The Phoenix jumped out to an early 9-5 advantage behind four kills from Estes and another from Gravely, D. Smith and Agae. After Furman battled back to tie the game at 13-13, Elon went on a 5-2 run to hold an 18-15 lead, but the Paladins quickly erased that cushion and the game was again knotted at 19-all and forced the Phoenix to call a timeout. Elon answered with two kills by Gravely that forced the Paladins to a timeout down 21-19, but the Phoenix could not maintain its advantage and was tied again with Furman at 22-22. Furman would outlast Elon to earn a 31-29 win in the third set and moved ahead 2-1 in the match.
Elon and Furman played another tight game in the fourth set, as the Phoenix could not break free of the Paladins. The maroon and gold went up by four, 15-11, after a kill by Gravely, but the Paladins responded with a 3-0 run that forced another Elon timeout. Both squads continued to go back and forth with Elon clinging to a one-point lead, 20-19, but the Phoenix went on a 4-1 run to move ahead 24-20 and hung on to win 25-23 to move on to a fifth and deciding set.
In the fifth and final set, both teams continue to play evenly before the Paladins took a 9-8, one-point lead and forced the Phoenix to a timeout. Another kill by Furman pushed its advantage to two, 10-8, but kills by Agae and Estes tied the set at 10-10. Furman would briefly gain a 11-10 lead, but a pair of kills by Estes put the Phoenix in front for good and eventually earn a 16-14 victory for its second-straight regular-season win against the Paladins. It was also the third-straight home win for the Phoenix over Furman.
Elon will play again tomorrow, Oct. 26, in Alumni Gym against Wofford at 7 p.m. in its annual Pink Day match. All fans are encouraged to wear pink.