CHARLESTON, S.C. – After rallying back from two sets down, the Elon volleyball team claimed the final three sets to take a 3-2 (22-25, 21-25, 25-15, 25-17, 15-5) win over The Citadel today, Sept. 28, in McAlister Fieldhouse. The Phoenix improves to 9-8 overall and 1-1 in Southern Conference play, while the Bulldogs fall to 4-13 (0-2 SoCon).
“We are happy to get our first SoCon win of the season,” said Elon head coach Mary Tendler. “The team pulled together, even though our backs were against the wall.”
Senior Cali Estes recorded a triple-double with a career high 15 kills, another career-high 14 digs and 14 assists. Freshman Kayla Agae posted her first career double-double for the Phoenix with 14 kills and a career-high 16 digs, while sophomore Megan Gravley led all players with a match-high 18 kills.
Estes, Agae and junior Kris Harris all finished with three blocks to help Elon to nine total team blocks. Senior Maggie Reichard posted 25 digs to average five digs per set.
Neither team was able to take more than a two-point lead through most of the first set until The Citadel moved ahead by five, 17-12. From there, kills by Ana Nicksic, Estes, Agae and Harris helped Elon to a 6-2 run to cut the deficit to one, 19-18. Kills by Harris kept the Phoenix within one, 21-20, but the Bulldogs were able to pull away with a 25-22 win.
The Bulldogs took an early 8-3 lead in the second set, forcing an Elon timeout, but the maroon and gold responded with five straight off a kill by Gravley, a kill and ace by Agae and a block by Gravley and Ally Karle to pull even at eight-all. With Citadel leading by four, 20-16, kills by Harris and Gravley and a block by Nicksic gave Elon three of the next four points to close the gap to two, 21-19. However, The Citadel maintained its advantage and took a 2-0 match lead after a 25-21 victory.
The Phoenix took a strong 8-1 lead in the third set with strong plays on both the offensive and defensive side of the net. The Bulldogs pulled within two, 12-10, before two kills by both Harris and Agae and one by Estes helped Elon to a 6-0 run to take an 18-10 advantage. The maroon and gold would go on to win the set by 10, 25-15, and keep the match alive.
With the fourth set tied at four-all, kills by Estes and Agae and two aces by Estes helped the Phoenix to six straight for a 10-4 lead. After the Bulldogs pulled within two, 13-11, back-to-back solo blocks by Estes and Gravley put Elon back up by four. Elon moved back to a six-point edge, 21-15, after a kill by Agae and a block by Karle and Gravley. The Phoenix would move on to a 25-17 victory to send the match into a deciding fifth set.
Two kills by Gravley and one by Estes gave Elon a 3-1 lead early in the fifth. Holding a four-point edge, 9-5, a kill by Karle sparked a 6-0 run to close out the set with a 15-5 Phoenix win and a 3-2 match victory.
Elon will continue its road swing with a match at local SoCon rival UNCG on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m. in Greensboro, N.C.