Senior hitter Cali Estes breathed a heavy sigh after Davidson College scored the last point to end her final match at Alumni Gym. Tears flowed easily on an emotional senior night, as the Elon University volleyball team honored Estes and defensive specialist Maggie Reichard for their career with the Phoenix.
In the match, Davidson topped Elon 3-2 (25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 22-25, 15-7) after a tightly contested game broke open for the Wildcats in the fifth set. A kill by Caroline Brown put Davidson up 11-3 and they stopped a last-ditch attempt by Elon to clinch a postseason berth of their own.
“We’ve done well in five set matches leading up to this game,” said Elon head coach Mary Tendler. “I was confident that we’d do well in this one. It got away from us, but we fought hard tonight and everyone had a moment where they stepped up.”
This will be the fourth consecutive season Estes and Reichard have been in the Southern Conference Tournament, as Elon clinched the No. 8 seed on Saturday. A four-game losing streak to end the season prevented the Phoenix from getting a higher seed. Estes and Reichard leave Alumni Gym as two of the best players in the program’s recent history.
“Where do I begin?” Estes said. “There are so many good memories. I just wanted to win this game for the rest of the team and to leave this place on a high note. We need to hang our heads up high because we did a lot of good things in this game, and I’m so proud of all the girls on the team.”
“They both have meant so much to this program and their leadership has been key for us this season,” Tendler said. “Cali and Maggie played well tonight and they have been there during some of our best years.”
Against Davidson, Estes filled up the stat sheet as usual, posting a team-high 14 kills, 27 assists and 20 digs. Reichard added 13 digs and three assists. For the season, Estes is second on the team in kills and assists. Reichard leads the team in digs.
Elon was short of two middle blockers — junior Kris Harris and sophomore Catherine Head — due to injury. With both out, freshman Ally Karle saw extensive playing time and made an immediate impact, putting up ten kills and four blocks on the night. She earned SoCon Freshman of the Week honors on Nov. 11.
For Davidson, Tindall Sewell led all players with 16 kills. Emily Franklin tallied seven kills and six blocks. Mikayla Derochie had 57 assists.
Elon matches up against No. 1 seed Georgia Southern University in the SoCon Tournament Friday, Nov. 22, in Greenville, S.C.