NEWBERRY, S.C. --- Newberry College rallied from a set down to edge visiting Tusculum University 3-2 in a South Atlantic Conference thriller at Eleazer Arena.
The Wolves (6-6, 1-4 SAC) won the match by scores of 25-22, 29-31, 18-25, 25-21 and 15-10 as three Newberry players finished with 15 kills each.
Tusculum's Gabby Gray had a banner day as she posted a career-high 23 kills to go along with 15 digs. TU setter Alyssa Rojas led all players with her career-best 56 assists, while Cassie Born posted 11 kills, 22 digs and four service aces in the loss for the Pioneers (2-8, 0-4 SAC).
The opening set went back and forth with 12 ties and six lead changes. With the score knotted at 14-14, the Pioneers went on a 4-1 run to take its largest lead of the frame at 18-15 following a kill from Nevena Pejovic. Newberry answered with three consecutive points to knot the score at 18-18 thanks to a pair of kills from Whitlow. TU regained the lead and held a 21-19 edge following a Carli Pigza service ace. A TU service error and a Zoe Dinkins' kill tied the score at 21-21. Gray regained the lead for the Pioneers with a kill, but four straight points, including an ace from Olivia Kozemko and two kills from Vanessa Blas gave the Wolves a 25-22 win in the first set.
The second set was a thriller which saw 18 ties and six lead changes. TU fought off five set-points and scored the final three points of the frame to win 31-29. Neither team enjoyed a lead larger than three points in the set. Tusculum led 16-13 but the Wolves battled with five straight points including a kill from Blas as NBY led 18-16. Newberry led 20-18 before TU went on a 4-0 run including two kills and a block from Gray as the Pioneers led 22-20. Newberry tied it at 23-23 thank to a Whitlow kill, but Cassie Born responded with a kill to give Tusculum its first set point of the match at 24-23. The Wolves scored back-to-back points to begin the string of five consecutive points for the home team with the last coming at 29-28 following an Angela Gore kill. Newberry setter was whistled for ball handling error which appeared to shift the momentum to the Black and Orange. Thornton and Hawkins came up with block to give TU a 30-29 lead and Rojas finished off the comeback with a kill for a 31-29 decision.
Tusculum jumped out to a 12-3 lead and led wire-to-wire to win the third set 25-18 to take a 2-1 lead in the match. The Pioneers recorded four services including two from Born.
Newberry answered with a gutty 25-21 win in the fourth frame. The Wolves used a 4-0 run early in the set to take a 13-8 lead sparked by a pair of kills from Dinkins. Tusculum trimmed the deficit to one on two occasions including 16-15. But six straight points put the Wolves up 22-15 with five of those resulting from Dinkins' kills. TU battled and scored five straight points to trim the NBY lead to 22-20, forcing a timeout. The Wolves got a Dinkins kill and a TU attack error as Newberry closed the set to win 25-21 and force a deciding stanza
In the fifth set with the score tied 4-4, Newberry went on a deciding 10-3 run to take a 14-7 advantage. The Pioneers fended off three match-points to trim the deficit to 14-10 to force a Newberry timeout. But a TU service error, its 10th of the match, ended the contest as the Wolves prevailed.
The Newberry trio of Blas, Dinkins and Whitlow tallied 15 kills apiece, while Blas added 14 digs in the winning effort. Newberry's Taylor Garrison and Olivia Kozemko dished out 29 and 26 assists, respectively, while five Wolves tallied double-figure digs, led by Kensley Jordan's 19. Dinkins also led all players with six blocks (3 solos, 3 assists).
Pigza added 14 kills and a .256 hitting percentage, while senior libero Melissa Mazur led all players with 33 digs.
Both teams finished the match with 63 kills apiece as the Wolves posted a .202 hitting percentage including a .400 effort in the final set. Tusculum tallied a .170 hitting percentage and hit .316 in the five frame.
Tusculum returns to action on Tuesday when they travel to Mars Hill University for a 7 p.m. contest.