Elon volleyball (8-10, 4-2 CAA) defeated the Delaware Blue Hens (11-4, 3-2 CAA) in Schar Center on Oct. 12 in five sets after a competitive back and forth game. This was a bounce-back conference win for Elon volleyball after losing their past two previous conference games.
The Phoenix were led by senior captain Nori Thomas, and sophomore outside hitter Leah Daniel. Daniel had 22 kills, 11 digs and four blocks. Daniel has now scored double digit kills in 14 straight matches. Today was her second double-double of her career.
“She really stepped up and she started out strong," head coach Mary Tendler said. “Her confidence is really high. She worked all spring and summer to get better as a volleyball player and she did. She is so much different this year. She’s confident. She has a lot of different shots now and she’s so athletic. Obviously, she gets off and it's great," Tendler said.
Coming into today's game the Phoenix had lost its last two matches which were both conference games. The Delaware Blue Hens came into the match winning their last three.
The Blue Hens won the first set 25-21. Delaware would get out to a quick 7-3 lead, But Elon went on a four-point run to tie the set at seven. Later, Delaware would get on a 3-0 scoring run with the score being 23-20 and from there Delaware would take the first set. Delaware’s Maria Bellinger had six kills in the first set. Daniel led with five kills and a dig and Kellyn Trowse had four kills and four digs for the Phoenix.
Elon began the second set not wanting to go down two sets. The Phoenix came out very competitive which led to back-and-forth play. Elon had tied it at the beginning of the second set six a side. It would get tied again at 12. Delaware began to pull away with a 19-15 lead. Elon then made a push came back tied the Blue Hens at 20. The Phoenix would then go on a 4-0 scoring run to close out the set 25-21. Natalie Cummins had six blocks, Trowse had picked up two more kills. Daniel would finish the second set leading with 11 kills. Bellinger would finish the second set with 10 kills for Delaware.
With both teams taking a set the third was bound to be another competitive one. The first 12 points of the set were split between the two teams. The set was thight the entire way with Delaware eventually taking it 26-24. Delaware’s Bellinger would continue to have a great game and carry her team with 15 kills, two digs and three blocks. Daniel's incredible day seems as if it was only getting started. Daniel would finish the third set with 16 kills, eight digs and three blocks. Behind her was teammates Trowse who had seven kills, eight digs and a block and senior captain Nori Thomas with seven kills and two blocks.
In the fourth set the Phoenix came out physical and ready to bounce back. With this being a must-win set the Phoenix came out making very few mistakes and went straight to business. The Blue Hens would start out with four straight points but Elon would come back and take that lead and would win this must win fourth set with the biggest margin of the night 25-19.
In the final set the Phoenix came out hungry and ready to win. The Phoenix would get out to a quick 5-2 start. Once again this would be a back-and-forth set but the Phoenix would keep the lead and not let up. The Phoenix finished Delaware off winning the final set 15-13. Daniel would finish with 22 kills, four blocks and 11 digs, and senior captain Nori Thomas finished with 10 kills and four blocks.
“We kept battling at every point. So that was impressive. And our defense kept getting better and better,” Tendler said.
The Phoenix will look to continue to win and build off of this impressive win. As they continue to play against conference teams. Next up the Phoenix will face Towson on Sunday, Oct.13 at home in Schar Center.