ELON, N.C. – Elon University volleyball put a gritty effort together Saturday night, Sept. 23, taking a 3-2 (25-20, 24-26, 25-13, 23-25, 17-15) victory over Delaware in Alumni Gym to earn its first CAA win of the 2017 season.
“This was a great win for our team,” said Elon head coach Mary Tendler. “Our serving and blocking were both really effective throughout the match. I’m proud of the team for stepping up and earning the hard-fought victory.”
Elon snapped a brief two-match losing streak with the win, moving to 11-5 on the season and 1-1 in conference play. The Blue Hens had won three of their last four matches entering Saturday, but fell to 3-9 overall and 1-1 in CAA play with the loss.
The Phoenix started the match by taking all of the momentum, opening on a 5-0 run before extending it to 7-2 and 8-3. From there, the Blue Hens held the Phoenix within striking distance, never going down by more than five until they found themselves down by seven at 21-14. Elon did allow Delaware to get back within three at 21-18 after a 4-0 run, but Elon won four of the next six points to win the set 25-20.
Like the first set, the Phoenix jumped out to a sizable lead in the early going by taking the first three points and six of the first eight to lead 6-2. Delaware answered, though, with a 5-0 run to lead by one at 8-7, but the Phoenix rattled off four of the next five points to go back up by two at 12-10. The teams traded points until Elon pulled ahead by three at 18-15, and the Phoenix kept Delaware at arm’s length from there until it led 24-22 to force a Blue Hen timeout. On the other side of the break, Delaware went on a 4-0 run to hold off a pair of set points and claim a 26-24 win.
Delaware tried to turn the tables in the third set by taking two of the first three points, but Elon took control from there by winning 13 of the next 16 points to take a commanding 14-5 lead. Throughout the remainder of the set, Elon kept the pedal to the metal on the way to a 25-13 win to go up 2-1.
The Blue Hens opened the fourth set on a 4-1 run before Elon quickly erased the lead with a 6-2 run to take a 7-6 advantage. Though Delaware won three of the next four points to go up by one at 9-8, the Phoenix responded with a 9-1 run to take a 17-10 lead. Delaware didn’t go quietly and ultimately fought back by going on a 7-1 run after Elon’s big run to make it 18-17, and the Blue Hens eventually won eight of the last 11 points of the set to win 25-23.
The decisive fifth set went back and forth in the early going before Elon went on a 6-1 run to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 9-5 lead. Delaware did cut the Phoenix lead back to just one at 9-8 and had match point at 14-13 after a 5-1 run, but Elon won four of the last five points – including each of the last three – to win claim a 17-15 set and the 3-2 match victory.
Sydney Busa paced Elon with 20 kills and 19 digs to go with three blocks. Kam Terry also added 18 kills, 15 digs and four blocks. Courtney Carpenter and Elizabeth Coil both had solid matches with Carpenter posting nine kills and eight blocks while posting a .400 hitting percentage. Coil finished with seven kills and five blocks to go with her .462 hitting percentage. Kodi Garica averaged 10.2 assists per set, finishing with 51 for the match while Maddie Jaudon led the team with 25 digs.
Maria Bellinger had another solid match for the Blue Hens with 23 kills and 19 digs while Brooke Robertson had 15 kills and 12 digs. No other Delaware player had more than five kills. Courtnie Roberts had 32 assists and 17 digs while Maddie Judge added a team-best 21 digs.
-Busa’s double-double pushes her to 11 on the season, which leads the CAA. Terry’s 10th double-double is tied for second-most in the conference.
-Busa cracked the program’s Top 10 list for kills in the match. She now has 1,101, which is one more than Lisa Bumgarner and one less than ninth place Britany Westphal’s 1,102.
-Jaudon’s 25 digs pushed her career total to 1,180, which is just six shy of eighth-place Katie Forman’s 1,187 career digs.
-Elon is unbeaten in five-set matches this season, now having defeated Charlotte on the road and Navy and Delaware in Alumni Gym.
-Prior to the match, Elon honored Sydel Curry ’16 for her contributions to the program. The ceremony acted as a Senior Night for the former Phoenix setter. She was on track to return to the program for the 2017 season to play her fourth year of eligibility before being forced to retire for medical reasons during spring practice.
The Phoenix will continue its four-match homestand to start CAA play on Monday, Sept. 25, against James Madison. First serve against the defending CAA regular-season and tournament champion Dukes is set for 7 p.m.