GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum women's volleyball team came out with authority against UVa-Wise in its home-opener to earn the first of many conference wins of the season.
The host Pioneers (3-4 (1-2 SAC)) won the match by scores of 25-22, 25-16, 25-13 over the Cavaliers (1-4 (0-3 SAC)).
UVa-Wise's Matelyn Gibson led the team with six kills, while setter Makayla Ledford dished out 16 assists. In a two-libero scheme, Morgan Milligan and Briana Kerr were the only two in double-digit digs with 15-12, respectively. Gibson and Brooke Abbott teamed up on the Cavaliers only block of the night.
Freshman Emiah Burrowes sparked the offense for the Pioneers with 13 kills with a .370 hitting percentage. Gabby Gray knocked down nine strikes on a respectable .289 hit percentage. Tatum Thornton hit .583 with seven kills and no errors, while Taylor Blythe finished with six kills and one error (.556). Elise Carmichael and Catherine Clingan tag-teamed the setting duties with 20 and 11 assists, respectively. At the service line, Carly Sosnowski and Burrowes each finished with three service aces.
Defensively, Sosnowski collected a team-high 10 digs in her return. Blythe had contact in over half of the Pioneers' 15 total blocks. The sophomore racked up eight total (one solo and seven assists) and Gray contributed with three block assists.
UVa-Wise hit .092 as a team with 25 kills and 18 errors in 76 total attempts. Tusculum hit a fiery .277 with 40 kills, 14 errors and 94 total attacks. The Cavaliers led the Pioneers in digs (38-26), but TU dominated in aces (13-2) and total blocks (15-2).
The first set was fueled by five kills from both Gray and Burrowes. The Pioneers stretched their lead to seven at 16-9 before the Cavaliers closed the gap to one (23-22). Tusculum called a timeout to slow the visitor's momentum and proceeded to take the next two points with a Burrowes kill and an attack error on the Cavaliers.
The next two sets were all Tusculum, allowing 29 points to its 50. Blythe was three-for-three on her swings, along with three block assists, in the second set. Thornton also went three-for-three, but in the third set. Burrowes added four kills in each frame. The Cavaliers fought off three set points in the second, but a kill from Carli Pigza solidified the much-needed 25th mark. In the third frame, the Pioneers took 10 of the last 12 points, closing out the match with a Nevena Pejovic kill, a Blythe solo block, and a Burrowes ace to clinch the sweep.
Tusculum will take the court in Pioneer Arena again Friday night against SAC foe Mars Hill at 7:00pm.