Gray's Career Night Not Enough to Top Mars Hill in Five Sets

Gray's Career Night Not Enough to Top Mars Hill in Five Sets

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum women's volleyball team won the second and third set, but lost the remaining three in a South Atlantic Conference match against Mars Hill.

The visiting Lions (4-3, 3-1 SAC) claimed the match over the Pioneers (3-5, 1-3 SAC) by scores of 25-19, 21-25, 22-25, 25-20, 16-14.

Mars Hill outside hitter Lauren Phillips had a stellar outing with team-highs in kills (14) and digs (22). Sarah Goddard also recorded double-digit kills with 11 and the setting duo of Jordan Schmucker and Sara Pasour combined for 43 assists. Sally Anne Johnson finished with six total blocks (three solo, three assists).

Junior outside hitter Gabby Gray recorded a career-high 23 digs, along with tying her personal-best 23 kills, on an efficient .333 clip. The Lafayette, Georgia native also assisted on two blocks. Emiah Burrowes and Carli Pigza knocked down double-digit kills in the marathon match with 13 and 10, respectively. Britney Shawel performed well at the service line, adding two aces to the effort. Carly Sosnowski contributed 22 digs from the back line, while Tatum Thornton collected six total blocks (one solo, five assists) at the net.

Mars Hill hit .181 as a team with 52 kills and 21 errors in 171 total attempts. Tusculum hit .203 with 68 kills, 28 errors and 197 total attacks. The Pioneers led the Lions in assists (64-49) and service aces (7-5), while the visitors held the advantage in digs (91-79) and total blocks (15-11).

Tusculum split the setting duties between freshman Elise Carmichael and sophomore Catherine Clingan, finishing with 36 (a career-high) and 24 assists, respectively. Clingan also contributed two aces and 10 digs.

The first set momentum swung back-and-forth between the teams until the Lions went on a six-point run to stretch the lead to four (16-12). The Pioneers fought back to a 17-16 deficit before Mars Hill won eight of the next 11 points to clinch the set 25-19.

The second set swung to TU's favor, hitting .306 to the Lions' .167. Mars Hill won six straight points (10-5) and the SAC opponents tied one another eight times, including at 21. Six of Gray's kills came in the frame and the last four points of the set belonged to the Pioneers, winning it 25-21.

Tusculum won the third set 25-22 in spite of 11 ties and four lead changes. The Pioneers won the last three points with a kill from Taylor Blythe and two from Gray to lead the match 2-1.

The fourth set was Mars Hill's, start to finish, featuring no ties or lead changes. The Lions twice expanded their lead to seven, claiming the set 25-20.

In the final frame, the Pioneers held a three-point lead (9-6), but Mars Hill rattled off six consecutive points to overtake the advantage. Gray tied the set at 14 with her sixth kill of the game, but the Lions clawed back to take the next two points and, ultimately, the match.

Tusculum will take the court in Pioneer Arena again Saturday afternoon against SAC opponent Lenoir-Rhyne at 2:00pm.