GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University women's volleyball team travels to South Carolina to battle Anderson and Newberry in a weekend South Atlantic Conference series. The Pioneers have their first Tuesday off since the start of the season.
The Black and Orange are riding a three-match SAC win streak, all by way of a sweep. Tusculum fell to non-conference King in four sets on Tuesday, before blanking Queens and Catawba in consecutive days this weekend.
RECAPPING THE WEEK
Tusculum completed two conference sweeps over the Royals and Indians, yet came up just short in a four-set match with the King Tornado.
Sophomore Carli Pigza stepped up this week in a big way for the Pioneers. The Fort Mill, South Carolina native led the team with 32 kills on a .373 clip, winning the Zaxby's female Athlete of the Week honor. Emiah Burrowes and Gabby Gray recorded 27 and 26 kills, respectively, while Aubrey Hawkins and Taylor Blythe notched 35 combined. Hawkins and Blythe had only three errors apiece on the week. Blythe leads the SAC with a .388 hitting percentage, good for 26th across the NCAA. The serving was much improved on the week, including four service aces coming from Elise Carmichael and three from Blythe.
Tusculum ranks second in the conference in assists (520) and kills (546). The Pioneers are also in the top half of the SAC in eight other statistical categories, including total blocks, blocks per set, attacks, assists per set, etc.
Defensively, Sosnowski led the way with 56 digs and Gray had 41. At the net, Blythe finished with 15 block assists, including a career-high seven versus Catawba, with Tatum Thornton and Pigza contributing a combined 21 total blocks.
The setting duties were primarily split between Carmichael and Catherine Clingan, with each appearing in all 10 sets. The freshman Carmichael dished out 61 assists, while the sophomore Clingan contributed 44.
Anderson (8-2, 6-1 SAC) will face in-state rival Erskine before hosting the Pioneers on Friday. The Trojans' only conference loss was to nationally-ranked Wingate in their first SAC match of the year. Maya Learmonth heads up the Trojan offense with 104 kills, while Emily Conlin has dished out 425 assists. Learmonth ranks third in the SAC, averaging 3.47 kills per set Conlin leads the conference with almost 11 assists per set, earning her the SAC Specialist of the Week honor for two straight weeks. Hailee Wilhelm hits .348 to sit fourth in the conference. Six Trojans have racked up double-digit aces and three have over 100 digs to their credit. Noelle Knutsen leads the team with 26 total blocks.
Since the two teams first met in 2005, the Pioneers hold a 15-11 advantage over the Trojans. Anderson will host SAC opponent UVa-Wise on Saturday afternoon.
Newberry (3-8, 1-6 SAC) defeated Lincoln Memorial in a five-set match 10 days ago for its only conference win this season. Toni-Anne Whitlow has 96 kills to lead the Wolves offensively, driven by the setting duo of Avery Webb and Taylor Garrison with 173 and 171 assists, respectively. Webb is a threat at the service line with a team-high 14 aces. Defensively, Newberry is spurred on by Katie Ullsperger's 122 digs and 32 total blocks from Zoe Dinkins.
The Wolves play UVa-Wise on Friday night before welcoming the Pioneers on Saturday. In the two decade series history, Tusculum leads 24-19 all-time over Newberry.
Links to live stats and video for Tusculum University athletic events can be found through tusculumpioneers.com.