The Elon University volleyball team concluded its 2021 regular season with a straight sets win over the Hofstra University Pride. The Phoenix clinched a first round bye in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament with the victory.
The first set of the regular season finale was a spark for the Phoenix. Elon came out hot and quickly took a commanding lead. Six kills and a block from freshman outside hitter Sydney Love gave the team a great burst and it won the first set handily, 25-14.
The penultimate set of the 2021 regular season proved to be the toughest of the three played Saturday. However, the last lead for Hofstra was 2-1. From there, the Phoenix took a dominant lead and won the set, 25-18.
Once again, an early run by the Phoenix proved to be the difference in the third set, as a 5-0 burst from Elon made the score 14-8. Elon finished the set on an 11-4 run to win it 25-12.
Strong performances from senior setter Haylie Clark (30 assists) and senior outside hitter Leah Daniels (11 kills) propelled the Phoenix to victory. The team’s 11-5 record in the CAA is its best conference record since joining the league in 2014.
Head Coach Mary Tendler said the team is now turning its focus to the CAA Tournament, which begins Nov. 18 at Towson University.
“We have now a couple weeks to practice and work on things we want to get better at,” Tendler said. “We wanted to get some momentum from this weekend.”
Current conference leader James Madison University is no longer allowed to compete in the CAA Tournament as the school begins its transition to the Sun Belt Conference, meaning Elon is currently in position to be the number two seed. The Phoenix could still be the one seed depending on how first place Towson finishes its season next weekend.
Tendler said she is proud of the resilience the team showed throughout the season and is hopeful the players can continue it in the postseason.
“The whole season wasn’t all great matches we played,” Tendler said. “We had some ups and we had some downs but every time we struggled a little bit, they bounced back.”
Elon is the only team in the conference that will not play any matches next weekend, but the record-breaking Phoenix will look to capture its first ever CAA championship in two weeks' time.