The last day of its annual home tournament brought the Elon University volleyball team its first victory, but also showed some areas where it needs improvement as the season progresses.
The University of Maryland beat San Jose State Saturday evening in three sets (28-26, 25-13, 25-23) to win the tournament. Maryland came back from a 2-0 deficit against Liberty to win in five on Saturday morning and beat Elon in four sets on Friday night.
Against San Jose State, Elon jumped out to a 6-1 lead thanks to three consecutive errors by the Spartans to start the match. The Spartans clawed back to tie it at 14-14. San Jose State took a 15-14 lead which prompted an Elon timeout.
The Phoenix came out of the timeout with three straight points on kills from sophomore middle blocker Ally Karle and senior outside hitter Danielle Smith along with a block from Smith and junior middle blocker Catherine Head, which forced San Jose State to take a timeout.
A couple of kills from freshman outside hitter Sydney Busa down the stretch put Elon in position for victory at 24-21, but four San Jose State kills and an ace gave the Spartans a 26-24 triumph.
Elon was all business in the second set, as an ace by Head put the Phoenix up 7-2. Head had a kill near the end, and teamed up with junior outside hitter Megan Gravley that helped keep the set in Elon's favor.
The Phoenix got out to another lead early in the third, this one 4-0 after a kill from Gravley, a block from Busa and Head, an attack error and an ace by junior setter Ana Nicksic. San Jose State came back to tie it at 15-15, again at 16-16 and 17-17, but kills from Busa and Karle along with blocks from Smith and Karle and Nicksic and Karle swung the momentum to Elon's side.
In the fourth, Elon steadily maintained the rhythm to secure the victory.
Karle led Elon with 12 kills, while Busa and Smith each had 11. Nicksic had 48 assists, and senior outside hitter Chanelle Smith had 21 digs while sophomore libero Morgan Maner and Danielle Smith each had 18.
Against Liberty, Elon went up 4-1 in the first set, but a 5-0 run by the Flames gave them a 20-18 lead. The match was tied at 23-23 before Liberty scored the next two points.
Liberty controlled much of the second and third sets, reeling off a 9-0 run during the third.
Busa hit .381 against Liberty, recording 10 kills with just two errors. Nicksic had 20 assists, and Maner had 10 digs.
Elon sits at 1-2 on the season, and will play in the Kennesaw State University Owls Invitational next weekend.
“We showed signs of really good play, but struggled maintaining that for long periods of time," Elon coach Mary Tendler said in a press release. "The match experience we got this weekend was huge and will be very helpful as we prepare for our next tournament at Kennesaw State."