RADFORD, Va. – The Elon volleyball won its sixth straight match in as many years over Radford tonight, Sept. 4, with a thrilling five-set victory, 3-2 (25-23, 25-14, 23-25, 15-25, 15-12), in the Dedmon Center. A career-high 24 kills by freshman Megan Gravley helped the Phoenix improve to 4-4, while the Highlanders fall to 4-4.
“We showed a lot of character tonight to come back and win the fifth set after losing that close third set and falling in the fourth,” said Elon head coach Mary Tendler. “We had our best blocking night of the young season, which is something we’ve been working on hard in practice. That was great to see come alive in the match and it was big reason we won in the fifth set.”
Gravley led all players with her 24 kills, while also recording two aces, 11 digs and three blocks. Sophomore Danielle Smith and senior Allison Johnson finished with nine and eight kills, respectively.
The Phoenix out blocked the Highlanders 14-7 on defense, while junior Maggie Reichard tallied a career-high 23 digs.
The first set was a back and forth affair with Radford maintaining the advantage until a kill and ace by Gravley put the Phoenix up by one, 14-13. With the set tied at 15-all, a block by Kris Harris and D. Smith started Elon on a 4-1 run that gave the maroon and gold a three-point lead, 19-16. Radford rallied to tie the set at 22-all and take a one-point lead, 23-22. The Phoenix then scored three straight with the help of a block by Johnson and another block by Harris and D. Smith to win the set, 25-23.
With the second set tied early at three-all, Elon went on a three-point run off a block by Catherine Head and D. Smith and a kill by Gravley to lead by three, 6-3. Radford then cut its deficit to two, 6-4, but the Phoenix put together a 10-2 run capped by a kill by Johnson to take a 10-point advantage, 16-6, and force the Highlanders to call its second timeout. Radford cut the maroon and gold’s lead to eight, 19-12, but a kill by Johnson and a block by D. Smith and Head put Elon back up by nine, 21-12. With the set at 22-14, in favor of the Phoenix, Elon scored the final three points off a block by Head and Johnson, a kill by D. Smith and a kill by Harris to win the set, 25-14, and take a 2-0 match lead.
Another kill by Gravley, her 14th of the match, helped Elon open to a 5-1 lead before Radford came back to tie the set at eight-all. The Highlanders claimed the next two points for a 10-8 lead before the Phoenix put together a 5-2 run off kills by D. Smith, Head and Johnson and a block by Harris and Johnson for a one-point advantage, 13-12. The set remained close with neither team taking the lead by more than a point until four straight by the maroon and gold made it 22-19. Radford would end the set on a 5-1 run to keep Elon from the sweep with a 25-23 win.
The Highlanders took their momentum from the third set into the fourth and went out to a 13-10 lead. Elon used an ace by Ana Nicksic and a kill by Head to go on a 3-1 run to pull within one, 14-13. After a kill by D. Smith made it 16-14 in favor of Radford, the Highlanders managed a 9-1 run to win the set, 25-15, and send the match into a deciding fifth set.
Elon opened the fifth set 3-0 off a block by Gravley and Head and a kill by Gravley. With the set tied at four-all, the Phoenix scored four straight with two more kills by Gravley and another block by Head and Gravley to take an 8-4 advantage. Radford pulled within one of the maroon and gold, 13-12, but Elon was able to hold off the Highlanders with a block by Gravley and Head to win the set, 15-12, and the match, 3-2.
The Phoenix will make the short drive down I-40 this weekend for the Duke Challenge against Duke, Northeastern and East Carolina. Elon plays Duke in its first match of the tournament on Friday, Sept. 7, at 7 p.m.