Lewis leads Pioneers to sweep over Newberry

Lewis leads Pioneers to sweep over Newberry

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Mariah Lewis recorded a dozen kills, three blocks and a .500 hitting percentage in leading the Tusculum volleyball team to a 3-0 South Atlantic Conference sweep over visiting Newberry Friday night at Pioneer Arena.                                          

The Pioneers (8-5, 6-3 SAC) won the match by scores of 25-19, 28-26, 25-22 for the team's first three-match winning streak of the season.  TC, who has won five of its last six contests, records only its second 3-0 win of the year and first since the season-opening blanking of 2016 NCAA Division II national quarterfinalist American International.

Lewis accounted for only one hitting error in her 22 attacks, while Laryssa Welch finished with 11 kills, three blocks and two service aces for her 14.5 points.

Senior setter Shannon Murphy dialed up 36 assists and 10 digs for her sixth consecutive double-double and 13th overall this year.  Murphy also had six kills, with one error in her 10 attempts for a .500 hitting percentage to go along with her three blocks.

Murphy was one of four Pioneers with six kills on the night, along with Cassie Born, Sabrina Schleuger and Kaily Weiss.

Senior libero Melissa Mazur contributed 20 digs and five assists, all on her 21st birthday.

Newberry's Vanessa Blas led the Wolves (6-6, 2-4 SAC) with her 11-kill performance, while Sidra Triplett had 10 kills and three blocks.  Setter Taylor Garrison dished out 35 assists, while the trio of Kensley Jordan (15), Natalie Willis (12) and Sydney Diaz (10) each tallied double-figure digs in the loss.

Tusculum led wire-to-wire in the opening set in a 25-19 win to start the match.  Tusculum led by as many as 18-10 following a kill by Welch, the first of six in the frame for the TC senior.  Welch hit .625 in the set (6 kills, 1 error, 8 attempts) and the Pioneers boasted a team average of .318 to take a one set lead.

The second set was a nail-bitter which included 16 ties and four lead changes.  Neither team could separate themselves early as the largest lead by either quad was two.  With Newberry lead 10-9, the Pioneers erupted for five straight points for a 14-10 lead after an attack error by the Wolves.  TC increased its lead to 18-12 before Newberry called a timeout. 

After the timeout, Newberry made a furious run and went on a 7-1 run to tie the set at 19-19 thanks to blocks from Garrison and Tricia Davie.

The match would be tied seven more times with Newberry never taking the lead down the stretch.  With the score tied 26-26, Newberry had an attack error and Lewis followed with a kill on set point as TC prevailed 28-26 to take a 2-0 lead in the match.

The Wolves came out on fire in the third set and led throughout the early portion of the frame.  The Pioneers scored three straight points to go ahead by a score of 12-10.  The Wolves roared back with a 6-0 run, including a pair of kills by Blas as Newberry went up 16-12.  The Pioneers answered with a 7-1 spurt to lead 19-17 including a 4-0 run with kills from Lewis, Weiss, Schleuger and Welch during the spurt.

Newberry tied the set at 19-19 and again at 20-20, before the Pioneers scored three in a row including a kill each from Welch and Murphy and a Schleuger service ace as TC led 23-20.  The Pioneers would close out the contest with a Lewis kill on match-point as TC won 25-22 to seal the victory.

The Pioneers finished the night hitting .221 with 47 kills, 18 errors and 131 total attacks.  Newberry finished with a .187 hitting percentage, totaling 41 kills, 18 errors and 123 attacks. 

Tusculum returns to action on Saturday when the Pioneers' host Coker for a 2 p.m. league match.