GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum women's volleyball team fought for its second conference sweep in as many days, chopping down the Catawba Indians in three sets.
The host Pioneers (6-6, 4-3 SAC) won the match by scores of 25-22, 25-15, 27-25 over Catawba (3-5, 2-5 SAC). With the victory, the Pioneers have matched last season's win total, both in conference play and overall.
Claire Kellum led the Catawba offense with 10 kills and Morgan Hester dished out 19 assists. Defensively, Hester finished with a team-high 11 digs, while libero Malia Carr scooped up 10. At the net, Allie Grubb and Jade Brooks teamed up for a block, while Kellum and Jaida Henderson collected a solo block each.
Carli Pigza shined in the match, recording 12 kills, with only one error, on a .478 hitting percentage. Emiah Burrowes was next up with seven kills. Taylor Blythe, Gabby Gray, and Aubrey Hawkins each finished with six kills as well. Blythe had no errors on 11 swings for a .545 clip. Catherine Clingan and Elise Carmichael combined for 35 of the team's 39 assists. Carmichael accounted for two service aces, while Blythe and Carly Sosnowski collected the remaining two.
Defensively, Sosnowski collected a match-high 13 digs, while Gray racked up nine. At the net, Blythe set a new career-high with seven block assists and Tatum Thornton finished with six total blocks (one solo and five assists). Pigza picked in four block assists as well.
Catawba hit .082 as a team with 34 kills and 25 errors in 110 total attempts. Tusculum hit .265 with 39 kills, 12 errors and 102 total attacks. The Pioneers led the Indians in assists (39-34) and total blocks (13-3), while Catawba held the advantage in digs (46-45) and aces (6-4).
The first set consisted of 13 ties and five lead changes. Catawba collected the first two points of the match before the Pioneer defense reared its head. Three straight blocks featuring Thornton swung the frame into the home team's favor. The Indians went on a run to lead 17-14 before the Pioneers stormed back hold a four-point advantage at 23-19. A Hawkins kill brought TU to set point and Pigza hammered home the winning point. The Pioneers hit an efficient .286 in the frame.
Tusculum showed its offensive skill in the second set, hitting a fiery .296. The first three points went the Indians' way before the Black and Orange rattled off five-straight points, including two of Pigza's five kills in the frame. The only tie and lead change in the set was during the run. TU won nine of the final 12 points in the frame, featuring two more of Pigza's kills and a block from Blythe and Hawkins.
The Pioneers used their defense to close out the match, with six total blocks occurring in the set. Blythe collected five of her block assists, while Pigza and Hawkins notched three and two, respectively. The nail-biting set saw seven ties, with three happening after the teams each hit 22 points. Fighting off multiple match points, Catawba gave Tusculum another shot at the win with a service error. On an attack by Kylie Morgan, Blythe and Hawkins teamed-up for the match-clinching block.
Tusculum takes the week off before traveling to the Palmetto State for a SAC weekend series. The Pioneers will face Anderson Friday night and Newberry Saturday afternoon.