ELON, N.C. – The Elon volleyball team claimed its first win of the young season today, Aug. 30, in a 3-1 (24-26, 25-17, 25-20, 25-21) victory over San Jose State before falling 3-0 (23-25, 20-25, 13-25) to Liberty in the final day of the Elon Phoenix Classic in Alumni Gym.
“It was great getting our first win today,” said Elon head coach Mary Tendler. “We showed signs of really good play, but struggled maintaining that for long periods of time. The match experience we got this weekend was huge and will be very helpful as we prepare for our next tournament at Kennesaw State. The crowd was very supportive throughout the weekend, especially the student section that helped create a lout atmosphere in Alumni Gym. We appreciate the support.”
Elon 3, San Jose State 1
In the first set, Spartan errors, a kill by Sydney Busa and an ace by Chanelle Smith gave the Phoenix a 6-1 lead. SJSU would even the score, 14-all, before a block by Ally Karle and Danielle Smith, two kills by Karle and D. Smith each and an ace by Chelsea Rafetto helped put Elon back up by four, 21-17. The Phoenix claimed set point after a kill by Busa but the Spartans rallied to make it 24-all and claimed the final two points off kills by Summer Avery to take the first set, 26-24.
Kills by D. Smith, Karle, Megan Gravley, a block by Karle and Busa and an ace by Catherine Head gave the Phoenix a 7-2 edge and forced an SJSU timeout. Still leading by five, 12-7, kills by Gravley, Head, D. Smith and a block by Karle and D. Smith helped the maroon and gold to a 12-7 run for a nine-point edge, 18-9. An ace by Head and a kill by Gravley helped clinch a 25-17 win in the second set for the Phoenix.
The Phoenix came out of the break strong with a 10-4 advantage and forced an early Spartan timeout. SJSU rallied to close the gap to one, 11-10, after several errors by Elon. The maroon and gold remained in the driver’s seat but the Spartans never trailed by more than two until a block by D. Smith and Karle followed by a block by Karle and Ana Nicksic moved Elon ahead 21-17. Kills by Karle and D. Smith helped close out the set, 25-20, to put the Phoenix up in the match, 2-1.
Off the serve of C. Smith, Elon went out to a 4-1 lead in the third set. The Spartans pulled within one, 11-10, before an ace by Nicksic and kills by C. Smith and D. Smith extended the maroon and gold lead to five, 17-12. Elon maintained the advantage by as much as three before a block by D. Smith and Head and a kill by Busa gave the Phoenix a 25-21 win and the match victory.
The Phoenix continued to look strong on defense as Karle tied a career-high seven blocks with D. Smith and Head each adding four. Chanelle Smith set a new career-high after a team-high 21 digs, followed by 18 digs from both D. Smith and Morgan Maner. On offense, Karle tallied 12 kills and D. Smith and Busa finished with 11 each, while Nicksic recorded 48 assists to average 12 assists/set.
Liberty 3, Elon 0
Two kills by Karle and one by each D. Smith and Gravley put the Phoenix out to a 4-1 advantage to start the first set. With Elon leading by three, 18-15, Liberty scored the next five points to take its first lead, 20-18. Elon would even the set at 23-all but the Flames managed the final two points for the 25-23 win.
In the second set, the two teams would trade points back and forth until the score reached nine-all. Liberty would take the advantage by four, 13-9, and would hold the lead by no less than two until kills by Gravley and Busa closed the gap to one, 19-18. The Flames closed out the set on a 5-2 run to take a 25-20 victory.
With the third set tied at four-all, the Flames managed to score nine straight off the serve of Gabrielle Shipe to go up 13-4. Liberty held on to its advantage and moved to a 23-11 edge. Elon answered with a block by Head and Gravley, an ace by C. Smith and a kill by Head but the Flames finished with a 25-13 final-set win.
Busa led the offensive attack after hitting .381 with 10 kills, while Gravley and Karle each finished with six kills. On defense, Karle tallied four blocks and Head finished with three, while Maner recorded 10 digs.
At the end of the tournament, Karle was named to the Elon Phoenix Classic all-tournament team.
Elon will continue tournament play next weekend in the Kennesaw State Invitational against Kennesaw State, No. 8 Purdue and UNC-Asheville. The Phoenix plays the host Owls in its first match on Friday, Sept. 5, at 7:30 p.m.