GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University women's volleyball team will road trip to the Carolinas, looking to rebound from two conference losses last week. The Coker Cobras, Friday's foe, and the Wingate Bulldogs, Saturday's competition, are on opposite ends of the SAC standings, sitting in 11th and first, respectively.
RECAPPING THE WEEK
The Black and Orange went 1-2 at home last week. Tusculum swept in-state King in convincing fashion before dropping two tough SAC matches. Lincoln Memorial made a fifth-set comeback, while Carson-Newman took the four-setter in close games.
Emiah Burrowes tied her career-high 22 kills against Lincoln Memorial, while Tatum Thornton recorded a new personal-best with her 13 kills. Thornton's night was augmented by a .476 hitting percentage. Sydney Byrd had the best performance of her freshman season with highs of eight kills and five total blocks (one solo, four assists) against the Carson-Newman Eagles.
Burrowes led the offense with 43 kills, followed by Gabby Gray (33), Thornton (25), and Carli Pigza (22). Taylor Blythe reached 16 kills, while Byrd, Gracee Peters, Aubrey Hawkins, and Alyssa Rojas collected points for the Pioneers. Thornton finished the three matches averaging a .413 clip. At the service line, nine Pioneers recorded an ace, led by Elise Carmichael's six. Gray added four and Carly Sosnowski collected three. Blythe, Catherine Clingan, and Nevena Pejovic notched a pair each, while Burrowes, Rojas, and Britney Shawel rounded out the column.
Defensively, Sosnowski headed up the team with 55 digs, while Gray was next up with 42. At the net, Blythe was credited with consecutive games of seven block assists, totaling 18 (one solo, 17 assists) for the week. Thornton also reached double-figures with 10 (one solo, nine assists).
All three setters saw action during the week, led by Carmichael's 77 assists (6.42 per set). Clingan collected 36 and 20 came from Rojas.
Tusculum leads the SAC in assists (1,103), and is second in both assists per set (12.12) and kills (1,157). The Pioneers are also in the top half of the conference in nine other statistical categories, including kills per set, aces per set, hitting percentage, total blocks, and opponent hitting percentage. Individually, Clingan leads the conference in aces per set (.52), good for 17th across Division II. Blythe tops the SAC in hitting percentage at .368, 27th in the division. Sosnowski ranks third in the conference with 4.95 digs per set and fourth with 421 total digs. Gray sits third in the SAC with 268 kills, while Burrowes is only five kills behind in fourth. Carmichael ranks third in the conference with 39 aces.
Coker (6-17, 3-15 SAC) has the week off before hosting the Pioneers on Friday. The Cobras will host the UVa-Wise Cavaliers on Saturday afternoon. Emily Everton leads the offense with 235 kills, followed by Taylor du Bray with 191. Ashley Carson, as the primary setter, has dished out 446 assists. Olivia Cerick has 35 aces for the Cobras, while Camryn Tate has racked up 257 digs. Chelsey Blume has nearly doubled the next closest blocker with 81 total (17 solo, 64 assists). Coker is last across the conference in four columns, including digs and digs per set. Cerick's .45 aces per set rate is good for third in the SAC.
Since the two teams first started playing one another in 2012, Tusculum leads the series 10-4 over the Cobras, after the Pioneers took the season's previous meeting via a sweep in Greeneville.
Wingate (24-1, 17-1 SAC) brings UVa-Wise to Cuddy Arena the night before the Pioneers take the court. Sophie Schaff has been the force offensively with 239 kills thus far. The setting duties have been split between Rachel Alles and Shannon Kasprak with 458 and 442 assists, respectively. With a SAC-leading 42 aces and also 404 digs, Treslyn Ortiz heads up the serving and the defensive category. Schaff also leads at the net, having hands on 95 total blocks (nine solo, 86 assists). Wingate leads the SAC in eight categories, including blocks per set, kills, aces per set, and assists per set. The Bulldogs are tops in the nation in opponent hitting percentage, allowing team to hit an average of .075 against them. Alles is the lone player in the SAC to record a triple-double this season. Against the Lenoir-Rhyne, the senior notched 10 kills, 21 assists, and 18 digs.
Since the two teams' first meeting in 1998, Wingate has dominated the series 45-6, including the four-set victory over the Pioneers in October.
Links to live stats and video for Tusculum University athletic events can be found through tusculumpioneers.com.