The eyes were on No. 12.
The Elon University volleyball team keyed on Towson University’s Victoria Williams, a powerful left-hander on the right side. Once that strategy starting coming to surface, the tides began to turn a bit in favor of the Phoenix.
Elon slowed Towson’s offense down late and posted its best offensive performance of the year, but fell just short in a 3-1 (25-22, 25-18, 24-26, 26-24) loss to the Tigers on Thursday, Oct. 16 in Alumni Gym.
“Obviously, we had to key in on (Williams) a little bit more,” Elon sophomore middle blocker Ally Karle said. “If you give her the open net, she’s going to put it straight down. That’s our priority. The first step is blocking. Once we cleaned up blocking, she got off a little bit.”
The Phoenix stepped up its defensive performance, first at the net and then in the back, which led to more control overall in its system. Elon kept Towson’s productivity at a limit down the stretch before focusing on offense.
Redshirt freshman setter Sydel Curry distributed the ball and ran the offense at a peak level of performance, mixing up sets and funneling the ball to a left side that excelled in every which way. Curry recorded 39 assists, while Karle led with 17 kills. Junior outside hitter Megan Gravley posted 12 kills from the left side, while freshman outside hitter Sydney Busa had 12 as well.
Elon hit .261 as a team (58 kills, 23 errors in 134 attempts), its best attack percentage for a single game this year.
“The offense was awesome tonight,” Elon head coach Mary Tendler said. “Both our left sides were unstoppable. Sydel did a good job of executing the gameplan and made some really good choices.”
Looking for a spark coming out of the break after dropping the opening two sets, Elon opened the third set on a 4-0 run with two kills from Karle and an ace from Curry. That lead became 6-3 after Busa tallied a block.
But Towson clawed back to tie things up at 21-21. With the scored tied 24-24, Busa hammered down a kill and an attack error swung the set toward the Phoenix, a momentum and confidence booster both offensively and defensively.
“We started slowing them down by playing better defense,” Tendler said. “If you can defend them pretty well, you have a good shot to win.”
Elon sprinted out to a 7-2 lead in the fourth set, complete with three kills from Busa. Elon led by as much as nine early on before Towson began to cut into the deficit and eventually tied it at 19-19.
“It’s hard to take, that’s for sure,” Tendler said.
Elon and Towson traded points early on in the opening set before the Tigers won six of the final 10 points down the stretch to win it.
The Tigers were in control for much of the second set, with its offense executing at will.
Elon’s defense dug 51 balls, with Curry leading the charge at 13 total.
“It has to be more consistent,” Curry said of the defense. “We’re able to get blocks up and get touches on balls and dig balls that don’t have blocks. We just have to make sure it’s more consistent.”
Elon falls to 5-17 on the season and 0-6 in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Phoenix returns home on Saturday to face the University of Delaware.