HARTSVILLE, S.C. --- The Tusculum University women's volleyball team ended its 2018 season Saturday afternoon with a 3-1 loss at Coker College in South Atlantic Conference action at the Deloach Center. The Cobras won the match by set scores of 25-20, 16-25, 25-15 and 27-25.
The Pioneers (6-20, 4-16 SAC) and Cobras (13-16, 5-15 SAC) both entered the day with a chance to earn a berth in the conference tournament, but a victory by Catawba over Newberry dashed any hopes for the winner to grab a postseason spot.
Taylor du Bray led Coker with 16 kills to go along with 12 digs and five blocks, and Lana Strejcek added 11 kills and four blocks for the Cobras, who swept the season series from the Pioneers.
Brooke Statler had career highs of nine kills and seven blocks to lead the Pioneers, while Cassie Born and Carli Pigza added seven kills apiece. Tusculum had a balanced attack against Cobra, with eight players recording at least three kills, and also finished with 10 blocks as a team.
In the first set, Coker jumped to a 6-1 lead behind three kills from du Bray, but Tusculum battled back to within 13-12 on kills by Born and Aubrey Hawkins. Another Hawkins kill left the Pioneers trailing 17-15, but back-to-back kills from Strejcek gave Coker a 22-17 lead in the set, which ended on a kill by Chloe Attram.
Set two saw the Pioneers use a pair of Hawkins kills to build an 8-4 lead, but a 5-0 run by the Cobras gave them the lead at 11-9. Tusculum regained the lead at 14-13 on another kill by Hawkins, which was followed by kills from Alyssa Rojas and Pigza for a 16-13 Tusculum advantage. Coker closed the margin to 18-15 on a Pioneer service error, but Tusculum put away the set on kills by Rojas, Statler and Born, capped by a block by Statler and Born on set point.
Coker used a 7-1 run to take a 7-4 lead in the third set, but Tusculum came back to regain the lead at 10-9 on an ace by Melissa Mazur. The set would be tied at 11, 12 and 13 before the Cobras ran off five straight points, which included three Pioneer hitting errors. Coker would score 12 of the final 14 points of the set, finishing with three straight kills from Olivia Cerick, Strejcek and Cerick again to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
Tusculum would again take the early lead in the fourth set, going up 4-1 and then 7-5 before a 4-0 run led by du Bray and Strejcek gave Coker the lead at 9-7. Tusculum would trail 19-14 after a du Bray kill, but chipped away to cut the deficit to two points at 20-18 and at 21-19. The Pioneers used three straight point to pull within 23-22, but a kill by Cerick put the Cobras on match point. Tusculum survived three match points on kills by Statler and Born and a service error, the latter tying the score at 25-25. However, a kill by du Bray and a hitting error on Tusculum would close out the set and the match.
Coker finished the match with a .147 hitting percentage on 50 kills, as Rami Mullen had 39 assists for the Cobras. Cerick contributed nine kills, 19 digs and three aces for Coker, while Kara Overholt shared the team lead with 19 digs for the Cobras.
For Tusculum, the team hit .094 on 46 kills, with Rojas dishing out 26 assists. Both Rojas and Mazur had a pair of aces, and Mazur led all players in the match with 33 digs, while Born had 15 digs and five blocks to go along with her seven kills. Kayli Dempster also reached double figures in digs with a season high of 10, and had six kills in the match.