GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University women's volleyball team hits the road for a five-match conference stretch. Queens, the Friday night opponent, sits tied for second in the SAC standings, while Saturday's foe, Catawba, holds the ninth spot. Tusculum hosted both North Carolina teams at the end of September, sweeping each squad.
RECAPPING THE WEEK
The Black and Orange are currently 5-2 in Pioneer Arena, after splitting the weekend with Coker and #23 Wingate. In the sweep of the Cobras, Taylor Blythe broke the Tusculum record for hitting percentage in a match (10-14 attempts) with a remarkable .833, racking up 10 kills on 12 swings with no errors. The Pioneers took a set off of nationally-ranked Wingate for the first time since 2017. The Bulldogs dropped just their second set of the season against SAC teams and fourth overall.
Four Pioneers recorded double-figure kills, led by Emiah Burrowes with 21. Additionally, Carli Pigza finished with 19 kills, Taylor Blythe had 17, and Gabby Gray added 16. Due in part to her record-breaking performance, Blythe had only one error and finished with a .471 hitting percentage on the week. At the service line, Elise Carmichael led the way with five, while both Gray and Catherine Clingan added a trio. Blythe and Carly Sosnowski recorded a pair with Cameron McAbee rounding out the category with one of her own.
Defensively, Sosnowski led the team with 23 digs, while Gray was close behind with 20. At the net, Blythe is credited with eight total blocks (three solo, five assists) and Tatum Thornton was next with six (one solo, five assists).
The setting duties were primarily shared by Carmichael and Clingan, collecting a combined 71 of 77 assists on the weekend. The freshman Carmichael dished out 45 assists, while the sophomore Clingan contributed 26.
Tusculum ranks fourth in the SAC in both assists (690) and assists per set (11.90). The Pioneers are also in the top half of the conference in seven other statistical categories, including aces per set, blocks per set, kills per set, and opponent hitting percentage. Individually, Blythe is second in the conference and 28th nationally in hitting percentage at .378. Sosnowski is third across the SAC in digs per set (4.92), while Burrowes is third in total kills (178) and kills per set (3.30). Carmichael ranks fourth in aces per set (.43), fourth in total aces (24), fifth in assists (344), and fifth in assists per set (6.14).
Queens (12-3, 9-2 SAC) will travel to Augusta University on Tuesday before hosting the Pioneers on Friday. Casey Tarvin, the reigning SAC Player of the Week, leads the Royals with 157 kills, while Logan Witt is just 10 behind her teammate. Witt leads the conference in hitting percentage at .384, which ranks her 22nd in Division II. Setter Mallory Swarts has dished out 538 assists (third in the SAC) at a 9.96 per set clip, good for second in the SAC. Brooke Farley has 23 aces behind the line and JayCee Jones has racked up 264 digs from the back row, almost five per set. Witt leads the defense at the net with 55 total blocks (16 solo, 39 assists).
Since the two teams first met in 1999, the Pioneers hold a 9-7 advantage over the Royals, including this season's sweep. Queens will host SAC opponent UVa-Wise on Saturday afternoon.
Catawba (4-9, 3-8 SAC) goes to Francis Marion on Tuesday before hosting weekend conference matches. Kylie Morgan is the only Indian with over 100 kills, totaling 148 thus far, averaging almost four per set. She also leads the conference in points per set, averaging 4.19, and is second in kills per set with 3.79. Morgan Hester has racked up 459 assists, just shy of 10 per set. Her total assist figure is fourth in the SAC, while her assists per set average is third. Allie Grubb and Jade Brooks lead the way with 11 aces. Defensively, five players for Catawba have dug up over 100 balls with Malia Carr collecting 192. At the net, Ashley Johnson is credited with 29 total blocks (four solo, 25 assists).
The Indians play at UVa-Wise on Friday night in a Dig Pink match before hosting the Pioneers on Saturday. Since the two teams first started playing in 1988, Catawba leads the series 25-20 after the Pioneers swept the season's previous meeting.
Links to live stats and video for Tusculum University athletic events can be found through tusculumpioneers.com.