LYNCHBURG, Va. – Junior libero Maddie Jaudon surpassed the 1,000-career dig mark on Saturday, Sept. 2, at the Liberty Invitational, where the Elon University volleyball team split the final two matches of the tournament against Maryland and Liberty in falling 3-1 (25-11, 23-25, 25-21, 25-19) to the Terrapins before beating Liberty 3-1 (18-25, 27-25, 25-20, 25-23) inside the Vines Center.
Jaudon reached the milestone late in the third set against Maryland. She went on to finish the match with 12 digs and added 25 against Liberty to bring her career total to 1,028, which stands 52 short of 10th place in program history. In her career, she’s averaged 4.1 per set over the course of her 67 matches played.
Elon’s split moves the Phoenix to 4-3 on the season through the opening nine days of the campaign. Maryland’s victory Saturday morning improved the Terrapins to 5-0 while Liberty fell to 1-5.
MATCH 1: Maryland 3, Elon 1 (25-11, 23-25, 25-21, 25-19)
After Maryland hit 68.2 percent with 13 kills and no errors to take the first set 25-11, Elon responded nicely to win a tightly contested second set. The two teams went back and forth in the early going before Maryland went on a 6-1 run to take a 10-7 lead. After the Terrapins extended the lead to five at 13-8, Elon answered with a 5-0 run that forced a Maryland timeout. Out of the stoppage, Maryland tried to pull away in taking a 17-14 lead, but the Phoenix fought to keep the set close at 20-18 before going on a 7-3 run down the stretch to win it 25-23.
Much like the second set, the third was a tight affair with neither team able to get more than three points ahead of the other until Maryland pulled away late to win it 25-21. Trading points nearly the entire set, Elon took a 16-15 lead after a kill from Kam Terry. But the lead was short-lived with Maryland taking six of the next eight points to go up 21-18. Though Elon pulled back within two at 21-19 after a Sydney Busa kill, the Terrapins went on a 4-2 run to close the set and take a 2-1 lead.
Elon got off to a hot start in the fourth, jumping out to an early 5-2 lead. The Phoenix led by as many as four on multiple occasions before pushing the lead to five at 17-12 late in the frame. But from there, Maryland turned the set with a 12-0 run to take the five-point deficit to match point at 24-17. Elon did stave off two match points to climb within five at 24-19, but Maryland took the match with a kill by Gia Milana, clinching the set final set 25-19.
Busa led the Phoenix with 12 kills and 11 digs for her fourth double-double of the season. Terry narrowly missed another double-double, finishing with nine kills and eight digs. Julia Crabtree made her first career start and finished with seven kills and Elizabeth Coil posted six. Kodi Garcia added a match-high 35 assists to go with seven digs. Bella Seman finished with eight digs.
Milana paced Maryland with 15 kills in the match to go with nine digs. She hit 36.1 percent in the match. Erika Pritchard, who was named the tournament MVP, added 14 kills, hit 41.4 percent and had seven aces with five digs. Samantha Snyder finished with 22 assists and Kelsey Wicinski had a team-best 22 digs. Maryland finished with a 30.1 hitting percentage for the match.
“In the first match against Maryland, we had a long stretch of some of the beset volleyball we have played all year, getting contributions from many different players,” said Elon head coach Mary Tendler. “I wish we could’ve closed out the fourth set better and forced a fifth set, but there were a lot of positives to take from the match.”
MATCH 2: Elon 3, Liberty 1 (18-25, 27-25, 25-20, 25-23)
Elon and Liberty swapped points throughout the onset of the first set with neither team leading by more than Elon’s two points on multiple occasions until the Flames took a 21-16 lead thanks to a 6-0 run that brought it back from a 16-15 deficit. Unable to stop the run, Liberty continued it to ultimately a 10-2 run to close the set with a 25-18 win.
The Phoenix opened the second set on a 6-2 run to force a Liberty timeout. It then went on to extend the lead to six at 9-3 before the Flames fought back to cut the set down to just two at 10-8. Back-to-back kills by Terry pushed Elon’s lead back to four at 12-8 and the two teams traded points from there until Liberty went on a run to cut the Phoenix lead to just one at 18-17, bringing an Elon timeout. Out of the break, Liberty extended its run to 23-20 before Elon climbed back in with three consecutive points to tie the set at 23-all. After Liberty took two of the next three points to go up 25-24, Elon closed the set with two kills from Busa and a block by Crabtree and Courtney Carpenter to win 27-25. In the second set, Elon earned 20 of its points from kills alone.
Mirroring the second set, Elon jumped out to an early lead by going up 10-5 over the first 15 points, but Liberty battled back to take a 14-13 lead with a 9-4 run of its own. From there, though, Elon went on a 7-0 run that used both of Liberty’s timeouts to take control of the set, ultimately going on to win it 25-20.
To start the fourth, Elon used a short 3-0 run to go up 7-5, then again used a quick 4-0 run to go up 11-8. But the Flames made their way back into the match, taking a 15-14 lead into a media timeout. Out of the break, Elon tied the match on a service error, but Liberty continued to run from the Phoenix by extending its run to 8-2 that took the set from a 14-11 Elon lead to a 19-16 Liberty advantage. Elon kept the Flame advantage to three at 22-19 before making its move by going on a 6-1 run to win the set 25-23 to finish the match.
Busa and Terry both had stellar nights with Busa tallying 21 kills and a career-best 26 digs and Terry posted 20 kills and 11 digs. Garcia had another solid match, finishing with 47 assists (11.75 per set) to go with 17 digs for her third double-double of the year. Crabtree added seven kills and two blocks while both Coil and Carpenter had six kills apiece. Carpenter also added three blocks in the victory. Jaudon finished with 25 digs and six assists.
Gabrielle Vess paced Liberty with 16 kills and 22 digs. She finished with a 28.3 hitting percentage in the match. No other Flame had double-digit kills, though Margaret Latchford had a match high 30 digs.
“The Liberty match was a true test of our patience on offense,” Tendler said. “We had a lot of opportunities and made some great decisions on when to swing hard and when to keep it in and defend. Our defense not only dug a lot of balls, but had great control. I’m proud of our players in the way they battled and made clutch plays to close the match.”
Elon will remain on the road Tuesday night, Sept. 5, when it heads to Boiling Springs, N.C., for a 7 p.m. match against Gardner-Webb. The match marks the seventh match away from Alumni Gym over the course of the first eight matches of 2017. After Tuesday night, Elon will play nine of its next 10 matches inside the friendly confines of Alumni Gym, starting with the Phoenix Classic on Friday, Sept. 8.