CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After dropping the first set, the Elon volleyball team (6-7) claimed the next three sets to post a 3-1 (18-25, 25-23, 27-25, 25-22) win over Tennessee State (2-6) today, Sept. 20, in the 49er Invitational.
“We found a way to win tonight,” said Elon head coach Mary Tendler. “This was our best defensive effort of the young season. I thought Tennessee State’s defense was incredible and it inspired our team to match that. Our blocking fell apart in the middle of the fourth set, but the players figured it out and it was the key factor to us winning that set and the match.”
Sophomore Megan Gravley recorded a match and season-high 22 kills, while freshman Kayla Agae posted a new career-high with 11. Senior Cali Estes finished with a new career-high 36 assists to average nine per set.
On defense, junior Kris Harris matched a career-high eight blocks to help Elon to a team total of 12.5. Junior Danielle Smith, sophomore Catherine Head and Agae each contributed four blocks on the night. Senior Maggie Reichard posted another season-high for Elon with 26 digs.
The Tigers took an early lead in the first set before kills by Chanelle Smith, Estes and Harris helped the Phoenix tie the score several times. With TSU leading, 23-16, back-to-back kills by Gravley cut the deficit to five. But the Tigers were able to close out the set, 25-18.
Trailing by four, 9-5, two kills by Agae and an ace by Morgan Maner helped Elon to a 3-0 run to pull within one, 9-8. Three kills by Gravley helped the Phoenix keep the score close before Elon scored five straight off another kill by Agae and ace by Maner, along with a block by Head and D. Smith, to take its first lead, 19-16. TSU came back to tie the set at 23-all, but a kill by Gravley and an ace by Harris won Elon the final two points and the set, 25-23.
In the third set, kills by Harris, Maner and Gravley, an ace by D. Smith and a block by Gravley, Harris and Estes helped the Phoenix to a 7-1 run to claim a four-point advantage, 14-10. The Tigers managed to tie the score at 21-all but the maroon and gold claimed set point first, 24-23, after a block by Gravley and Head. Elon went on to earn three of the final five points off kills by Gravley and Agae to win the set, 27-25.
Kills by Estes and Gravley helped Elon to a six-point lead, 15-9, early on in the fourth set. TSU came back to take the lead by three, 21-18, before blocks by Harris, Agae and D. Smith evened the score at 21-all. With the maroon and gold up by one, 23-22, back-to-back blocks by Harris, Agae and Estes sealed a 25-22 win for the Phoenix. The Phoenix tallied a total of five team blocks in the final set thanks in part to an impressive five blocks from Harris.
Elon will continue the 49er Invitational tomorrow, Sept. 21, when it takes on South Carolina State at 10 a.m. and host Charlotte at 7 p.m.