GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum's Cassie Born and Gabby Gray recorded 23 and 20 kills, respectively as the Pioneers rallied from a set down to record a 3-1 South Atlantic Conference volleyball win over visiting Lenoir-Rhyne on Senior Night at Pioneer Arena.
Tusculum (6-16, 4-12 SAC) won the match by scores of 22-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-17 to record its third straight victory and avenge last month's 3-0 road loss to the Bears (17-8, 11-7 SAC). With the win, the Pioneers remain in a tie for eighth place in the SAC standings with Coker while also snapping L-R's four-match winning streak.
The Pioneers dominated on the block as they finished with 12 as a team with three solos and 18 assisted rejections. TU finished the night with a .229 hitting percentage including .286 in the last two sets combined.
Born also had 10 digs and finished with a .375 hitting percentage while Gray tallied a .333 attack percentage to go along with her three blocks. Setter Alyssa Rojas dished out a match-high 50 assists, while tallying 10 digs and a service ace. Senior libero Melissa Mazur accounted for 32 of Tusculum's 75 digs on the evening, while Cameron McAbee also had double-digit digs with 10 on the night. Freshman Tatum Thornton led the blocking attack for TU as she recorded a season-high nine blocks (2 solos, 7 assists).
The L-R duo of Angelica Arroyo and Taylor Prall each posted a double-double in the loss. Arroyo had 14 kills and 16 digs, while Prall finished with 14 kills and 13 digs. Setter Helen Hamilton added 34 assists and 12 digs, while Ashley Hawkins had 11 digs for the visitors.
In the opening set, Tusculum scored the first four points to start the match before the Bears answered with a 5-0 run. TU would take an 8-7 lead only to see L-R roll to an 8-3 spurt to take a 15-11 advantage and force a TU timeout. The lead would later swell to 21-16 after a kill from Madison Asher. Tusculum would cut the deficit to 24-22, but a kill by Prall on set-point gave the Bears a 25-22 win in the opener.
Tusculum started hot again scoring the first three points and led 5-1 after a L-R attack error. The Bears tied the score at 7-7 and again at 10-10. But TU would use a 4-0 run capped off by a Gray kill as the Pioneers led 14-10. Tusculum maintained the lead and push it out to as many as 24-18 following a kill from Gray. L-R made it interesting as they fought off six set points to trim the deficit to 24-22, but a service error gave TU a 25-22 win to even the match at a set apiece.
Lenoir-Rhyne jumped out to a 13-8 lead including a Jaclyn Denny kill to force a Tusculum timeout. The Pioneers answered with a 7-1 spurt to take the lead 15-14 following a block from Thornton and Born. After a timeout, L-R tied it at 15-15, but TU would score three in a row to spark a 7-2 run and lead 22-17 following a Carli Pigza kill. L-R would trim the TU lead to 23-20 before back-to-back points to seal a 25-20 Tusculum win and a 2-1 lead in the match.
After trailing 4-1 early in the fourth set, Tusculum scored three straight to tie the score a 4-4. With the scored tied at 9-9, the Pioneers went on a 10-2 run which included three kills from Gray and a point via a red card on the L-R bench as TU led 19-11. The Bears would whittle the deficit to 21-17 following a kill from Arroyo. But after a TU timeout, the Pioneers scored the final four points of the night to win the set 25-17 and seal the victory.
Tusculum returns to action on Saturday when they host Catawba for a 2 p.m. match at Pioneer Arena. This match was originally scheduled for Sep. 14, but was postponed due to the remnants of Hurricane Florence. The two teams met two weeks ago in Salisbury with the Pioneers winning a five-set marathon over the Catawba Indians.