Elon Phoenix Volleyball Falls to Highlanders in Five

RADFORD, Va. – Leading the match 2-0 after the first two sets, the Elon volleyball team (0-3) was unable to hold off a rebounding Radford team (3-0), falling 3-2 (25-23, 25-13, 20-25, 20-25, 13-15) in the final match of the Radford/Virginia Tech Invite tonight, Aug. 29, in the Dedmon Center.

“I’m really proud of how we battled tonight against a strong Radford team,” said Elon head coach Mary Tendler. “They pushed us many times and we kept fighting back. Unfortunately, Radford made the plays they needed at the end of the fifth set to win the match.”

In the fifth set, a block by Ally Karle and Megan Gravley and a Gravley kill helped the Phoenix to a 5-2 edge. With Elon holding a 10-8 lead, the Highlanders used a 5-0 run to move ahead 13-10 and kept the advantage to win the match.

Gravley finished with her first double-double of the season after a team-high 14 kills and 12 digs. Sydney Busa also recorded a double-double with 10 kills and 13 digs. Sydel Curry tallied 41 assists on the night, while both Busa and Catherine Head notched two aces to help the Phoenix to six total.

On defense, the Phoenix finished with seven total blocks after a match-high four by Karle. Rookie Maddie Jaudon tallied 26 digs to average 5.2 digs per set in the match.

Radford’s Maddie Palmer led all players with 18 kills and 19 digs, while Savanna Burton had 14 kills and 17 digs.

How it happened: Trailing by seven points in the first set, 12-5, kills by Gravley and Busa pulled Elon within three, 12-9. The Phoenix took its first lead, 19-18, forcing a Highlander timeout. Kills by Kayla Agae and Busa gave the maroon and gold set point as the Phoenix claimed a 25-23 win.

Leading by only three, 11-8, kills by Gravley and Karle and an ace by Head helped Elon to four straight and a 15-8 advantage. The Phoenix continued to control the set with a closing 14-5 run and a block by Head and Agae to win 25-13.

Early kills by Karle, Agae, Head and Busa put the Phoenix up 6-4 before the Highlanders took the lead, 9-8. Elon trailed the remainder of the set as Radford prevented the sweep with a 25-20 victory.

Radford led the entire fourth set with Elon using kills by Kam Terry to pull within one, 15-14, but the Highlanders held on for another 25-20 win to even the match and send it to a deciding fifth set.

Notes: The Phoenix and the Highlanders both finished with 72 digs in the match…Elon hit a season-best .286 in the second set…Radford finished with 10 total team blocks…The win was only the second for Radford in the last 10 meetings…Elon had previously won seven straight over the Highlanders…The Phoenix still leads the all-time series, 14-9.

Up next: The Phoenix takes on local rival High Point in its next match on Tuesday, Sept. 1, in High Point, N.C., at 7 p.m.