After a hot start, the Elon University volleyball team fell to the University of Illinois at Chicago 3-1 (26-28, 25-18, 25-20, 25-21) at the Kristen Dickmann Invitational in Annapolis, Md.

The Phoenix were ahead on the scoreboard for most of the first set before needing a tiebreaker to take the 1-0 lead, but a strong second set from the Flames pulled the match back even.

Momentum from the second set propelled UIC to the victory.

Screen shot 2013-08-31 at 7.43.59 PMElon’s front line of sophomore Megan Gravley and junior Kris Harris recorded 20 total kills between the two while freshman Morgan Maner led the team with 12 digs in her first official match with the Phoenix.

Sophomore Ana Nicksic and senior Cali Estes had 22 and 14 assists, respectively.

Senior Mary Kate Imrie filled up the stat sheet for UIC, recording 42 assists, 3 kills and 7 digs.

Senior Justine Garcia added 19 digs, and junior Sara Sternard had 15 kills and 2 aces.

The Flames had 19 total service aces in the game, including seven in the third set.

UIC quickly got their act together late in the first set when a 22-17 lead for Elon quickly became a 24-23 UIC lead. The Phoenix then subbed in freshman Ally Karle, who tallied a key kill to give the Phoenix a 25-24 lead and help them eventually the set win.

Elon competed early in the second set, but UIC scored five straight points to make it 14-6. A block by junior Chanelle Smith stopped the run, but the Flames maintained the lead for the rest of the set.

The Phoenix benefitted from several UIC attack errors in the third set, but had difficulty returning serves. When the Flames weren’t committing errors, Gravley generated multiple points for the Phoenix. But, it wasn’t enough for the team to get the set victory.

The final set was tightly contested, with Nicksic dishing out assists and kills to keep the Phoenix in the game. Sternard ended the match with a kill assisted by Imrie.

This match marks only the second time Elon has lost a season opener in the last seven seasons.

Elon will matchup against the University of North Carolina at Wilmington tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. The Phoenix will then play the role of the home team against Navy at 6:00 p.m. before returning home from Annapolis.

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