DURHAM – The Elon University volleyball team traveled to Durham Wednesday night to take on the North Carolina Central University Eagles. The Phoenix swept Central in straight sets, as senior outside hitter Leah Daniel became Elon’s Division I era kills leader.
Coming into the match, Daniel had 1,444 career kills and trailed Elon’s Division I era leader, Emily Hayes ’04, by six. At 13-9 in the second set, senior Haylie Clark set up Daniel for her seventh kill of the match to eclipse Hayes.
“It has been fun watching her get better and better each year,” head coach Mary Tendler said. “She works hard and deserves this achievement.”
Daniel needs 10 more kills to pass Velma Degree ’93 and become Elon’s all-time kills leader. Elon moved up from Division II to Division I in 1999. Daniel now has more career kills than any player since Elon became a full Division I member. Degree set Elon’s all-time kills record while Elon was still a Division II program.
The Phoenix established its dominance early. Through the beginning of the first set, strong and consistent play helped Elon keep a comfortable lead. With Elon ahead 11-8, Elon went on a 6-1 run to take the life out of the Eagles. From that point, Elon cruised to a 25-17 first set victory.
The second set was the easiest of the match for Elon. NC Central started strong and managed to take an early 8-7 lead. However, that would be the last of Central’s success in the set, as the Phoenix promptly went on an 18-4 run to win the frame and take a 2-0 lead.
Down 0-2, NC Central did not go away easily in the third, jumping out to an early 6-4 lead. However, the Phoenix began to find success with its serves, earning aces on key points throughout the set. The team finished with 11 aces, one short of its season high. A 6-0 run gave Elon a 16-12 lead in the set, and the Phoenix did look back, going on to a 25-21 third set win to complete a sweep of the Eagles.
Daniel’s eight kills were tied with freshman Brooke Doherty for the most on the team. Clark added 28 assists and three aces, while senior libero Jordan Gower racked up 18 digs.
In her first start of the season, senior Claire Richey posted a career-high five kills and a team-best four blocks. Junior setter Ericka Link, who entered the match with two career aces, served four over a seven-point span in the second set to set a new career-high.
Tendler said she was proud of the team for showing focus and poise despite this being a difficult week with players preparing for midterms.
“For the players to perform like they did tonight was incredible,” Tendler said. “Even though the academic demands on them are very high right now, they were able to stay focused throughout the match and get the win.”
The win snapped a three-match losing streak for Elon.
The Phoenix get a bye weekend before returning to Colonial Athletic Association play with matches against the Towson University Tigers on Oct. 15 and 16. The Tigers are 16-0 and 6-0 in the CAA. Towson received 36 votes in this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association Poll.
Both matches at Schar Center are scheduled for 2 p.m.