HARRISONBURG, Va. – Despite taking the first set and an overall strong defensive effort at the net, the Elon volleyball team was not able to pull out a win at James Madison tonight, Oct. 2, falling 3-1 (25-23, 20-25, 14-25, 16-25) in Sinclair Gymnasium. The Dukes improve to 10-5 on the season and 2-0 in Colonial Athletic Association play, while the Phoenix falls to 5-13 (0-3 CAA).
“We used a new lineup tonight, which worked out great in the beginning, but JMU did a good job of adjusting,” said Elon head coach Mary Tendler. “Our block was very effective in the first two sets and that helped our defense tremendously. We look to continue our strong defensive play in our next match.”
On defense, the Phoenix out-blocked the Dukes, 13-9, including a 6-0 effort in the first set. Catherine Head led the defensive unit with a season-high seven blocks, while Kris Harris and Ally Karle finished with six and five blocks, respectively. Megan Gravley tallied a match-high 14 kills, followed by 13 kills from Sydney Busa.
Four combined blocks by Busa, Head, Gravley and Karle and two kills by Gravley helped the Phoenix to a six-point lead in the first set, 12-6, forcing an early Dukes timeout. Another block by Harris and Karle kept Elon ahead by six, 14-8, before JMU rallied to close the gap to two, 15-13. The maroon and gold maintained between a two and three point advantage until the Dukes came within one of the Phoenix, 20-19. Two kills by Harris helped put the lead back to two and a kill by Busa closed out the set for a 25-23 Elon win.
In the second set, a block by Busa and Head (Elon’s third block of the set) moved the Phoenix to a 10-4 advantage. After JMU cut its deficit to two, 10-8, Elon answered with a block by Harris and Agae to help the Phoenix back to a four-point edge, 12-8. The Dukes then evened the score at 16-all and took a 19-17 lead. Kills by Busa and Kayla Agae evened the set again, 19-all, but JMU won six of the final seven points to even the match with a 25-20 victory.
JMU took the early lead in the third set, 7-4, before kills by Harris and Gravley and an ace by Busa helped score four straight for the Phoenix and give Elon its first lead, 8-7. With the Phoenix leading by one, 11-10, the Dukes managed to score 10 straight to move ahead, 20-11. JMU would go on to win the set, 25-14, and take a 2-1 match lead.
The Dukes went out to an 8-1 lead to start set four before Elon began a furious rally with a 5-1 run off two kills by both Karle and Busa and one by Gravley to close the gap to three, 9-6. JMU answered with the next five points to go back ahead by eight, 14-6. The maroon and gold pulled back within six, 15-9, after two kills by Gravley and one by Curry but the Phoenix was not able to overcome the deficit as the Dukes went on to win 25-16.
Elon remains on the road for its next match as the Phoenix travels to Williamsburg, Va., to play William & Mary on Saturday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m.