GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University women's volleyball team will remain in its home state, despite a mid-week away match at King. The Black and Orange return to the friendly confines of Pioneer Arena for a weekend conference series versus two North Carolina teams.
The Pioneers had a winning week, sweeping UVa-Wise and Lenoir-Rhyne, but fell to Mars Hill in a heartbreaking five-set loss. TU drives northeast to Bristol for a non-conference bout with the Tornado and comes home to contend with SAC foes Queens and Catawba.
RECAPPING THE WEEK
Tusculum completed two SAC sweeps over the Cavaliers and Bears, yet came up just short in a five-set battle with the Mars Hill Lions.
Junior Gabby Gray had an exceptional week with 42 kills on a .288 clip. The Lafayette, Georgia native tied her career-high 23 kills against Mars Hill and set a new personal-best with 23 digs. She is second in the SAC with 102 kills on the young season. Emiah Burrowes also had a good stretch with 39 kills on a .240 hitting percentage. Taylor Blythe and Tatum Thornton were efficient, hitting over .300, combining for 36 kills. Blythe currently leads the SAC in hitting percentage at .391 for the season, ranking 32nd nationally. At the service line, Catherine Clingan stepped up with seven aces, while Burrowes, Blythe, and Carly Sosnowski each had four.
Defensively, Sosnowski led the way with 45 digs and Gray had 31. At the net, Blythe finished with 11 total blocks, whilst Thornton had eight and Gray collected seven block assists.
The setting duties were split between Elise Carmichael and Clingan, with each appearing in all 11 sets. The freshman Carmichael dished out 77 assists, an even seven per set, while the sophomore Clingan contributed 52.
King is off to a 4-5 overall and 1-1 in Conference Carolinas, losing two-of-three matches against South Atlantic Conference competition. The Tornado are led by Julie Ward with 108 kills (3.60 per set) and 100 digs. The setting duo of Keri Ricker and Hannah Rogers have dished out 197 and 126 assists, respectively. Rogers also heads up the service ace category with 15. Brittney Ramsey and Kayley Holtzclaw have combined for 64 total blocks at the net.
The Pioneers and Tornado have played 32 times in their series history with TU holding the slight edge 17-15. King finished 18-11 overall last year and was the third seed out of the North division in the conference tournament.
After Tuesday's away match, the Pioneers circle back to Greeneville for the weekend, taking on Queens Friday at 7pm and Catawba Saturday at 2pm.
Queens (7-2, 4-1 SAC) has the week off until Friday's match. The Royals only conference loss of the season was to nationally-ranked Wingate on Friday. Anna McLain heads up the Queens attack with 81 kills, followed closely by Casey Tarvin (76) and Logan Witt (73). Mallory Swarts averages 9.81 assists per set for a total of 304. Defensively, JayCee Jones has 165 digs, while Witt has collected 30 total blocks. Brooke Farley is tied for the SAC lead in aces per set with .60.
The Royals will look to even up the series history with the Pioneers at eight wins apiece. Queens will stay on the road to face SAC foe UVa-Wise on Saturday afternoon.
Catawba (2-4, 1-4 SAC) defeated Coker on Friday for its first conference win of 2019. The team also has the week free until taking the court at UVa-Wise on Friday. Catawba's wins have only come on its home court. Kylie Morgan ranks highly in many national categories, including five kills per set and 5.32 points per frame. She has totaled 85 kills, 55 digs, and seven block assists. Morgan Hester has dished out 221 assists (SAC-leading 11.05 per set) and leads the team with six aces. Malia Carr has scooped up 101 digs and Jessica Walker heads up the defense with 20 total blocks.
The Lady Indians play UVa-Wise on Friday night in Virginia before traveling to the Pioneers on Saturday. In the more than 30-year series history, Catawba leads 25-19 all-time over Tusculum.
Links to live stats and video for Tusculum University athletic events can be found through tusculumpioneers.com.