For the second straight night, the Elon University volleyball team had to go to five sets to take down a Southern Conference foe after an extended third set slipped through their fingers. While the match against Furman University the previous night was a back-and-forth thriller, Elon’s game against Wofford College was a blowout, then a Terrier comeback, then a Phoenix victory Saturday, Oct. 26.
“Sometimes we think the game will become easy,” said Elon head coach Mary Tendler. “That makes it tough to wake up and get back into the game, but it was a great effort by us to get that win because Wofford had all of the momentum going into the fifth set.”
Elon topped Wofford 3-2 (25-18, 25-18, 29-31, 23-25, 15-12) in a match that got turned upside-down at the end of the third set. The Phoenix was able to jump out to a 2-0 lead with a bevy of blocked shots from its frontcourt, along with tipped balls to make life easier for the backcourt.
“We’ve been working a lot on defense lately and its showing,” said sophomore outside hitter Megan Gravley, who led Elon with 14 kills. “Our defense has really picked up ever since the (University of Tennessee at) Chattanooga game, and that helped us come away with the win tonight.”
Filling in for junior middle blocker Kris Harris, freshman Ally Karle played stellar defense and totaled 12 kills and five blocks on the night.
“Our blocking had to be improved from where we were earlier in the season,” Tendler said. “We got some good points off of our blocks, and that’s something we’re always looking to improve there.”
Elon seemed heading towards a 3-0 sweep of Wofford leading 26-25 in the third set. Four errors, including two on serves, helped Wofford sneak by in the end of a frustrating set for the Phoenix.
“We had such a good win last night that it made it tough to close the deal,” Gravley said. “I think we weren’t as focused going into the third and fourth set because we thought we had it going in.”
Elon had to play catch-up in the fourth set, and eventually lost by two after a kill by sophomore right-side hitter Taylor Baird. The Phoenix came out firing in the fifth set, building up a 9-4 lead with a kill by Danielle Smith. Wofford went on an 8-4 run to trail by one point, but kills by senior right-side hitter Cali Estes and Gravley helped the Phoenix survive yet another thriller at Alumni Gym.
Estes filled up the stat sheet by tallying 13 kills, four blocks, 22 assists and 12 digs. Sophomore middle blocker Catherine Head contributed six kills, two service aces and three blocks. Senior defensive specialist Maggie Reichard had 13 digs and seven assists.
For Wofford, Baird posted 16 kills and five blocks. Junior middle blocker Wendy Burnett had 13 kills and five blocks of her own. Junior setter Bekah Dorsey assisted on 48 points and had a .667 hitting percentage.
Elon will continue their defense of Alumni Gym with a match against Appalachian State University Friday, Nov. 1 at 7:00 p.m.