The Elon University volleyball team lost at Samford University Friday, Oct. 18, 3-0 (14-25, 21-25, 21-25), and won against the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga the following day, 3-2 (22-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-17, 15-12). The Phoenix is now 4-4 in Southern Conference play and has a 13-11 record on the season.
Against the Bulldogs, Elon got in an 8-4 hole early after a service error by senior defensive specialist Maggie Reichard. Samford extended their lead to 20-10, which forced the Phoenix to call a timeout. The Bulldogs held on to a set win despite three errors after the timeout.
Samford jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the second set, but a 5-2 run by Elon got the Phoenix back in it with two of the points coming off of kills by junior right-side hitter Danielle Smith. The action went back and forth before a block by freshman outside hitter Kayla Agae and sophomore middle blocker Catherine Head gave Elon the 19-18 lead. The Bulldogs went on a 7-2 run afterwards, with an attack error by sophomore outside hitter Megan Gravley ending the set.
Elon didn’t back down in the final set, tying the game at 8-all with a service ace by senior setter Cali Estes. Samford gained the lead again, but a kill by Estes reduced the Bulldog advantage to 16-15. Gravley carried the Phoenix offense for the rest of the set, scoring the final four Elon points, but it wasn’t enough. A block by senior middle blocker Katie Murphy and senior setter Stephanie Palmer ended the set and the match.
Gravley led Elon with 13 kills in the game. Sophomore setter Ana Nicksic and Estes combined for 24 assists. Agae added seven kills and one dig.
Murphy put up 12 kills, a .733 hitting percentage and 15 assists for Samford. Junior outside hitter Michaela Reesor tallied 15 kills and three digs. Junior libero Chelsi Carter added 14 digs.
On Saturday against Chattanooga, a block by freshman middle blocker Ally Karle and Estes reduced the deficit to 14-12 in the first set. The Mocs maintained the lead, going up 19-15 after a service error by Estes. Elon trailed 21-20 after a kill by Estes from Morgan Maner, but sophomore middle blocker Lauren Gainer scored to give Chattanooga the set win.
The second set featured long scoring runs by both teams. A 5-1 run by the Phoenix was countered by a 5-1 run by the Mocs, helping Chattanooga get a 13-10 lead. A timeout by the Mocs followed a service ace by Estes to put the Phoenix up 18-16. Trailing 21-18 after a bad set by junior middle blocker Kasey Talley, Chattanooga went on a 7-1 run to close the set. Gainer again scored the final point.
In the third set, Elon got the lead first with two kills by Smith helping them get a 12-8 lead. Two straight attack errors by Agae reduced the Phoenix lead to 17-15. Smith scored two straight points assisted by Nicksic to cap off a 4-1 run for Elon. The Mocs clawed back within two at the end of the set, but Estes scored to give Elon their first set win of the match.
Chattanooga trailed 9-8 in the fourth set after a kill by sophomore outside hitter Briana Reid. Elon scored nine of the next 11 points with Karle tallying two kills and a block during the run. The Phoenix didn’t have much difficulty after that, and a kill by Karle ended the set.
In the final set, Elon went up 8-4 after a kill by Agae. Nicksic assisted a Karle kill to put the Phoenix up 12-10. Karle scored three of the final four points for Elon, including two blocks at the end of the set to give the Phoenix the comeback win.
Karle and Agae each tallied 12 kills for Elon, with Karle also getting six blocks. Gravley added 16 kills and four digs.
For Chattanooga, Talley led the Mocs with 12 kills. Sophomore defensive specialist Catherine Chason contributed 22 assists and ten digs. Gainer put up nine kills and five blocks.
The Phoenix plays next against Furman University at Alumni Gym this Friday, Oct. 25, at 7:00 p.m.