Halloween is a time for tricks and treats. On Halloween night, the Elon University volleyball squad had some tricks up its sleeves in the third set and treated the fans in Alumni Gym to a five-set (30-28, 23-25, 25-21, 19-25, 15-11) victory over the College of William & Mary Tribe. Elon snapped an 11-match losing streak and earned its first victory in the Colonial Athletic Association.
“It feels awesome [to get our first CAA win] because the players work hard every day and they keep fighting,” Elon head coach Mary Tendler said. “Even though we’ve had a lot of losses, they haven’t given up and for them to pull out a five set match like they did is just awesome.”
Injuries, lack of execution late in sets and tough opponents caused the Phoenix to enter Friday’s matchup with a 0-10 record in the CAA. Despite these obstacles, the squad’s resiliency and healthy full roster allowed them to emerge victorious over the Tribe.
After splitting the first two sets, Elon feel behind 18-12 in the third set. In response, the Phoenix went on a 13-3 run to take a 2-1 set lead in the match.
Throughout the match, junior outside hitter Megan Gravley played at her best. By the end of the contest, she had 16 kills while committing three errors in 36 total attempts.
“You really appreciate a win when there’s a big string of losses,” Gravley said. “I think [those losses] made us really appreciate today and it’s a big historical moment for us.”
Other players also stepped up for the Phoenix. In the third set, sophomore Morgan Maner served four aces down the stretch.
“Morgan went on a serving run and she got multiple aces in a row,” Tendler said. “That just told William and Mary that we’re not ready to die and that we’re going to go after [winning] still.”
One issue that Elon has had throughout the course of the season is injuries. But in Friday’s game, all 12 players on the roster were eligible to play. This healthier rotation of players allowed the Phoenix to become more united and perform up to their potential.
“Each person contributes a different thing to this team,” Gravley said. “It’s awesome to have everyone back finally.”
Although Elon lost 25-19 in the fourth set, the team dominated the final set. They scored five unanswered points to begin the fifth set and closed out the match with a 15-11 win in the last set.
The Phoenix is scheduled to finish off its regular season home schedule Sunday at 2 p.m. against the James Madison University Dukes.