KENNESAW, Ga. – After dropping the first set, the Elon volleyball team (2-2) rallied to claim the next two sets over Kennesaw State (3-2) before taking an eventual 3-2 victory (21-25, 25-23, 25-20, 18-25, 15-7) tonight, Sept. 5, in the first day of the Kennesaw State Owls Invitational.
“The team effort tonight was incredible,” said Elon head coach Mary Tendler. “We had players who haven’t played a whole lot come in and make plays. Our three seniors showed great leadership, played with a ton of confidence, and helped will our team to victory on the road. We look to build on this win tomorrow.”
Chanelle Smith posted a double-double in the win with a team-high 12 kills and another team-high 17 digs. Rookie Sydney Busa recorded the second double-double of her young career with 11 kills and 10 digs. On defense, Elon out-blocked KSU, 11-5, with the help of six blocks from Kris Harris and four from Danielle Smith.
In the first set, the Owls claimed the first three points before kills by Ana Nicksic, Catherine Head and D. Smith pulled the Phoenix within one, 6-5. Kills by D. Smith kept Elon within a few, but Tendler was forced to call a timeout after KSU extended its advantage to six, 21-15. With the Owls at set point, 24-19, a kill by Busa and a block by D. Smith and Harris would put the maroon and gold within three, 24-21, before KSU closed out the set, 25-21.
With the score tied at six-all, Elon went on a 4-1 run capped by a Harris kill and an ace by C. Smith to force a KSU timeout, 10-7. The Phoenix extended its lead to five after a block by D. Smith for the Owls to call its final timeout, 17-12. Out of the break, KSU rallied with three of the next four points to close the gap to three, 18-15. Kills by C. Smith, Kayla Agae and Busa would hold the lead and give Elon set point, 24-20, before the Owls rallied and pulled within one, 24-23. A kill by C. Smith gave Elon the final point, 25-23, to even the match at one set each.
In the third set, KSU led 3-2 before a 7-1 run by Elon that included a block by Harris and Busa, three kills by D. Smith and two kills by C. Smith to take a five-point advantage, 9-4. A block by Harris and Agae and kills by Agae, Harris and C. Smith helped extend the Phoenix lead to eight, 16-8, and force KSU to call its second timeout of the set. With Elon leading by nine, 19-10, the Owls managed six straight to pull within three, 19-16. Kills by D. Smith, C. Smith, Busa, Agae and Harris would keep the maroon and gold in the lead before a block by Harris and Busa gave Elon a 25-20 victory.
The fourth set started in favor of the Owls, 4-1, forcing an early Elon timeout. A kill by Busa and an ace by Morgan Maner helped Elon even the score at five-all. From there, the two teams would trade points with neither team taking more than a one-point lead until KSU broke away with an 11-4 run to win the set, 25-18, and force a fifth set.
Kills by Nicksic, Busa and C. Smith helped the Phoenix to a 6-2 advantage before the Owls cut its deficit to two, 6-4. From there, Elon went on a 7-0 run with the help of an ace by C. Smith, a kill by Agae and back-to-back blocks by Harris and Agae. A kill by D. Smith sealed a 15-7 win for the Phoenix and the 3-2 match victory.
Elon continues play in the Kennesaw State Owls Invitational tomorrow, Sept. 6, with a 10 a.m. match against No. 7 Purdue and a 5 p.m. match against UNC Asheville.