After dominating the first two sets, the Elon University volleyball team found itself with its back against the wall in the fourth set trailing Western Carolina University 21-16. Tying the game up didn’t seem like a pipe dream, as the Phoenix tied the third set at 23-all when they were down 22-19, but the Catamounts came out the victor to extend the match. The real question was if Elon could complete the comeback in the fourth set.
Propelled by a 9-2 run in which freshman middle blocker Ally Karle had two blocks and two kills, including the game-winner, Elon topped Western Carolina at Alumni Gym on Saturday, Nov. 2, 3-1 (25-20, 25-17, 23-25, 25-23). The Phoenix bounced back from a loss against Appalachian State University the night before to up their Southern Conference record to 7-5.
“The team did a better job of being where they were supposed to be during that run, and they made plays,” said Elon head coach Mary Tendler. “We tightened up our defense and we started blocking shots like we did early in the game.”
In the first two sets, Elon posted a .315 hitting percentage as compared to Western Carolina’s .102. The Phoenix’s defense had an answer for every attack attempt by the Catamounts. Replacing junior middle blocker Kris Harris due to injury, Karle and sophomore Catherine Head played excellent defense to slow down Western Carolina’s offense.
“They led us right from the beginning by getting great blocks,” Tendler said. “With Kris out, they are getting more playing time and hitting attempts, which gets them to be more confident in games like this.”
“I don’t think you can necessarily replace Kris,” said Head. “But we do the best that we can to get into position to make plays. Now we’re on the court more, so we need to step up and help the team out any way we can.”
Head and Karle combined for 15 blocks and 15 kills. Senior right-side hitter Cali Estes led the team with 12 kills, including two straight on Elon’s 9-2 run at the end of the fourth set. She also posted three blocks, 15 digs and 19 assists.
For Western Carolina, junior outside hitter Jordan Timmermann tallied 13 kills and two blocks. Junior middle blocker Addy George had 11 kills and five blocks. Sophomore setter Cristina Nazario led all players with 39 assists.
Elon will go back on the road to face Wofford College Friday, Nov. 8, at 7:00 p.m. in Spartanburg, S.C.