ELON, N.C. – The Elon volleyball team started the 2014 season off strong this evening, Aug. 29, in a close match against Maryland in the first day of the Elon Phoenix Classic, but the Terrapins eventually prevailed with a 3-1 (23-25. 25-16, 14-25, 20-25) win in front of a loud maroon and gold crowd in Alumni Gym.
The Elon defense out-blocked Maryland, 11-5, with six blocks coming from Catherine Head. Ally Karle tallied five blocks, while Megan Gravley, Danielle Smith and Ana Nicksic each recorded three. Morgan Maner posted a team-high 16 digs followed by Chanelle Smith with 12 and D. Smith with 10.
Gravley led the offensive attack with 11 kills, while rookie Sydney Busa made a statement in her first collegiate match with a double-double after 10 kills and 10 digs. Nicksic finished the match with a team-high 31 assists.
“It was nice to be at home for our first match of the year,” said Elon head coach Mary Tendler. “Defensively, we played at a very high level. Our block was very good tonight, which made it easy for the players to defend behind it. I was very pleased with the overall effort of the team and the intensity that they showed from start to finish. We look forward to our matches tomorrow.”
In the first set, both squads traded points back and forth with the score tied at 10-all until the Terrapins took a 16-11 advantage. A block by Karle and Nicksic and kills by D. Smith, Nicksic and Karle evened the set at 17-all. Neither team would take more than a two-point edge as the set moved to 23-23. Maryland was able to grab the final two points to take the close win, 25-23.
Kills by Karle, D. Smith and two by Busa, along with blocks by Head, Gravley and Busa, put Elon out to an 11-5 lead to start the second set. With the Phoenix leading, 12-7, kills by Karle and Head and a block by Head and Gravley put the maroon and gold up by as much as nine, 16-7. Elon would continue to force Terrapin errors and dominate at the net to move to a 20-11 advantage. A kill by D. Smith moved the Phoenix to set point, 24-12, before Maryland halted with a four-point rally to cut the lead to eight, 24-16. Gravley recorded a kill to seal the set, 25-16, and even the match.
After the break, Maryland jumped out to a 6-2 advantage before a block by Karle and Nicksic finished a 6-3 run for Elon to pull within one, 9-8. With the help of the serve of Caroltta Oggioni, the Terrapins managed to claim the next seven points to move ahead 16-9. The maroon and gold was not able to overcome the deficit as Maryland moved on to a 25-14 win and 2-1 match lead.
The fourth set saw the Terrapins claim a 6-3 lead before several errors let Elon tie the score at six-all. Neither team would take more than a one-point advantage until Maryland pulled ahead 20-18. The Phoenix continued to force errors to stay within two, 22-20, but the Terrapins took the final three points for a 25-20 set win and the 3-1 match victory.
Elon continues play in the Elon Phoenix Classic tomorrow, Aug. 30, with matches against San Jose State and Liberty. The Phoenix takes on the Spartans at 12:30 p.m. before closing out the tournament against the Flames at 7 p.m. in Alumni Gym.