CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Elon University volleyball opened its 2017 campaign Friday, Aug. 25, with two matches at the Charlotte Invitational inside Charlotte’s Halton Arena. The Phoenix opened the afternoon with a 3-1 (25-17, 25-23, 23-25, 25-12) win over Southern Utah before falling 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-16) to Belmont.
“We learned a lot about our team today,” said Elon head coach Mary Tendler. “In our win over Southern Utah, we came through at some clutch times and had some outstanding performances from Sydney Busa and Kam Terry. In the second match, Belmont challenged us with their offense and aggressive serves. These matches will help us move forward and compete even better against future opponents, starting Saturday against Charlotte.”
MATCH 1: Elon 3, Southern Utah 1 (25-17, 25-23, 23-25, 25-12)
Elon opened the match winning six of the first seven points to force an early timeout from Southern Utah. Sydney Busa came out firing with three kills in a row to put Elon up 3-1. Kam Terry then got in the act with a kill of her own before Maddie Jaudon floated back-to-back aces to build the five-point lead. Southern Utah did answer nearing the midway point of the set in cutting Elon’s lead to 13-11, but Elon never allowed the lead to slip away en route to a 25-17 first-set win.
Tight from the onset, the second set never saw either side up by more than four points throughout. Southern Utah opened up a lead early, taking 6-3 and 10-6 advantages before the Phoenix climbed back to make it 12-11. The Thunderbirds held their slim lead until Elon made a late charge. Trailing 21-19, Busa hammered a kill and Bella Seman came up with an ace to knot the set at 21-all. Southern Utah took two of the next three points to take a 23-22 lead, but a Thunderbird service error and two big Phoenix blocks gave Elon the next three points to take the set 25-23.
The third set saw another tightly-contested affair in which neither team could pull ahead by more than three points. Though Southern Utah forced a fourth set with a 25-23 win, Elon took control after Southern Utah opened with a 3-0 lead in the final frame by going on a 14-4 run to take a 14-7 lead into a Thunderbird timeout. The stoppage didn’t alter Elon’s game, as it continued to dominate out of the break on the way to a 25-12 win to clinch the match.
Busa and Terry both notched double-doubles with Busa tallying 24 kills and 13 digs to go with two blocks. Terry finished with 20 kills and 10 digs to go with three blocks and a .300 hitting percentage. Playing in her first collegiate match, Kodi Garcia also recorded a double-double with 45 assists and 10 digs. Jaudon added 23 digs, six assists and three aces in the win.
In all, Elon finished with a hitting percentage of .267 to Southern Utah’s .148. The Phoenix picked up seven aces and 73 digs to go with nine blocks. Southern Utah could only muster two aces throughout the afternoon.
Macky Fifita led the Thunderbirds with 19 kills in the match to go with nine digs. McKenzie Van Uitert finished with 15 digs while Sarah Vang and Alexis Averett each had 14. Averett also tallied 31 assists in the match.
MATCH 2: Belmont 3, Elon 0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-16)
Playing a second tight match on the afternoon, Elon opened up a 9-5 lead in the opening set. But after a Belmont timeout, the Bruins clawed their way back and took a 16-15 lead after last leading early on at 3-2. Elon did regain the lead briefly at 18-17 after a Terry kill, but Belmont answered with three straight points to go up 20-18. A few points later with the Bruins leading 22-19, Elon used a timeout and won the ensuing two points to get back within one at 22-21, but it couldn’t completely overcome the deficit and fell 25-23.
Much like the first set, the two teams traded points early on in the second set. But it was Elon that went on a 6-0 run to take the score from 8-8 to 14-8. Though the Bruins settled in after the 6-0 run, Elon kept them at bay most of the set, leading by four at 16-12. But Belmont went on a 6-2 run to tie the match from there, bringing a Phoenix timeout. Elon couldn’t regain the lead down the stretch with Belmont using momentum to win 10 of the final 12 points in the set to win it 25-20.
In the third set, Belmont, the preseason Ohio Valley Conference favorite playing its first match of the season, slowly pulled away from the Phoenix throughout the set to finish the sweep. After trading points to start the set, the Bruins went on a 9-1 run to take a 5-4 lead to 14-5. Though Elon settled back in after the run, Belmont had done enough with the two trading points back and forth to take the set 25-16
Terry paced Elon with a 13-kill, 10-dig double-double. Busa closed the match with seven kills, seven digs and five aces and Garcia posted 28 assists in the match.
Belmont was led by Arianna Person, who finished with 15 kills and eight digs. Brie Lewis finished with 10 kills and seven digs. She hit .381 in the match. Emma Price had 31 assists and 11 digs.
Elon will open its 46th and final home slate inside Alumni Gym on Tuesday, Aug. 29, against North Carolina A&T. First serve is set for 7 p.m.