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Tusculum stays hot in 3-1 SAC win over Mars Hill

Tusculum stays hot in 3-1 SAC win over Mars Hill

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Mariah Lewis record 12 kills and a .550 hitting percentage as the Tusculum volleyball team defeated Mars Hill 3-1 Tuesday night at Pioneer Arena in South Atlantic Conference action.

The Pioneers (5-4, 3-2 SAC) won the match by scores of 25-21, 21-25, 25-11, 25-22 as TC has been victorious in three of its last four outings.  Mars Hill (1-6, 0-4 SAC) suffers its sixth consecutive loss.

The Pioneers led wire-to-wire in the first and third sets, but had to overcome a 21-14 deficit in the fourth and used an 11-1 run to close out the match 25-22.  TC got back-to-back service aces from SAC Player of the Week Cassie Born for the Pioneers' 24th and 25th points of the set.

Born, who was also named the Player of the Week by the Tennessee Sportswriters Association, finished with a career-high six aces, which are tied for the fifth-most in TC history in a four-set match.  It is the most aces by a Pioneer since teammate Laryssa Welch tallied six aces at Mars Hill in 2014.

Tusculum finished the night with 11 assists, which are tied for the ninth most in program history for a four-set match.

Lewis tallied a dozen kills with one error in her 20 total attempts.  Welch accounted for 10 kills and a .318 attack percentage as she contributed five blocks and an ace.  Setter Shannon Murphy dished out 39 assists, made 16 digs, posted six blocks and had three service aces.

Kaily Weiss had nine kills and four blocks, while Born had seven kills and six digs.  Junior libero Melissa Mazur had an outstanding defensive effort with her 30-dig performance.

Mars Hill recorded more kills on the evening than the Pioneers as the Lions tallied 51 to TC's 46.  But MHU committed 29 hitting errors as Tusculum finished with a dozen team blocks.

Mars Hill's Rebecca Butler had 12 kills and a .321 hitting percentage, while posting 15 digs for her double-double.  Sally Anne Johnson had 10 kills, while the setter duo of Sarah Pasour and Sara Fahrenbrook dished out 22 and 18 assists, respectively.  The Lions finished the match with 78 digs, including a team-best 16 from Sarah Lorick.

Tusculum scored the first three points of the match and led by as many as seven points on six different occasions before taking a 25-21 win in the frame. The Pioneers hit .235 in the frame with 12 kills, including four from Born and three by Weiss.

The Lions roared back in the second frame scoring the first four points of set.  Tusculum rallied with a 6-2 spurt for the first of nine ties in the set.  The lead would exchange hands six times including the final time at 15-14 following a Johnson kill.  MHU never trailed for the rest of the frame and took its largest lead of the set at 21-16 following a Butler kill.  TC trimmed the deficit to 21-20 following a MHU attack error.  But the Lions scored the final four points, including a kill by Lauren Hochstetler on set-point.

It was all Tusculum in the third set as the Pioneers opened with a 7-0 run, including three aces from Born and a pair of Weiss kills.  Mars Hill trimmed the deficit to 14-9, but Tusculum closed out the set with an 11-2 run and scored seven straight on Murphy's serve en route to a 25-11 win.  The Pioneers hit for a sizzling .417 with 12 kills, two errors and 24

The Lions were determined to send the match to a fifth set as Mars Hill took a 7-2 lead.  Tusculum cut the MHU lead to three points on five occasions including 14-11 after a Welch kill.  The Lions went on a 7-3 run to lead 21-14 following another Hochstetler kill.  But the Pioneers made their final push as TC scored seven in a row, including six straight on Murphy's serve to tie the set at 21-21.  A Hotstetler kill gave the lead back to the Lions, but four unanswered points by Tusculum, including a Lewis kill and Born's two aces sealed the victory for the Pioneers.

Lewis finished the fourth set with five aces and three blocks, while Mazur recorded an amazing 11 digs in the fourth frame alone.

Tusculum hit .200 for the match while Mars Hill posted a .128 hitting percentage.

The Pioneers return to action on Friday night when they host undefeated Wingate for a 7 p.m. match at Pioneer Arena.

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