After losing the first two sets, the Elon University volleyball team stormed back to take the next two Tuesday Sept. 10, but it wasn’t enough in a loss at High Point University, 3-2 (25-22, 25-11, 18-25, 21-25, 15-10).
Elon couldn’t hold on to a big first set lead, but mistakes by High Point in the third and fourth sets helped the Phoenix pull off a near-comeback.
Sophomore outside hitter Megan Gravley led the Phoenix with 11 kills, but junior right-side hitter Danielle Smith was close behind with ten of her own. Sophomore setter Ana Nicksic chipped in 34 assists and had 21 digs. Senior defensive specialist Maggie Reichard contributed 11 digs and one service ace.
For High Point, junior outside hitter Chelsea Davis led all players with 21.5 points and overwhelmed Elon in the second set with six kills. Junior outside hitter Kristin Heldt added 14 kills and a .204 hitting percentage. Senior setter Maddie Simpson led the team with 44 assists and had one service ace.
Junior middle blocker Kris Harris got hot early in the first set for the Phoenix, scoring three of the first five points for Elon with Nicksic assisting her each time. Elon stayed ahead for the majority of the set, jumping out to a 19-13 lead after three attack errors by High Point.
The Panthers cleaned up their act after that, going on a 9-0 run in which the Phoenix used two of their timeouts. Elon stopped the run after senior right-side hitter Cali Estes got the kill, making the score 23-21. Two consecutive errors by the Phoenix gave High Point the set win.
Elon trailed 9-6 in the second set after two straight errors by Heldt, but High Point went on a 9-2 run and never relinquished the lead.
In the third set, High Point kept the lead early until the Phoenix awakened to go on a 7-1 run, gaining the 10-7 advantage. Two consecutive kills by Smith forced High Point to call a timeout trailing 16-9. The Panthers prevented a blowout after a 4-0 run was capped off by a Heldt kill, but Gravley scored to stop the comeback and end the set.
Four consecutive points in the fourth set gave Elon some breathing room to lead 13-8. Three service errors helped the Phoenix keep the lead, and Smith closed out the set with a kill from Nicksic.
High Point opened up an early lead in the final set, scoring four straight points — three by Davis — to gain a 6-3 advantage. The Panthers maintained the lead until a bad set by Heldt pulled the Phoenix within two. Simpson was the hero of the fifth set, though. On High Point’s final three points, she dished out two assists and a service ace to give the Panthers the win.
Elon comes back home for the weekend to play in the annual Elon Phoenix Classic Sept. 13-14. The first match for the Phoenix, versus Gardner-Webb University, is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m.