GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University women's volleyball team executed a weekend sweep over Anderson and Newberry, earning the right to a rematch with the Trojans on Tuesday night. The Pioneers claimed the No. 6 seed in the upcoming South Atlantic Conference Tournament and will travel to the Abney Athletic Center for a 7pm showdown with a familiar foe seeded third.
With the successful weekend, Tusculum has qualified for its first SAC Tournament in two seasons and secured a winning season for the first time since 2014.
This will mark the second time Tusculum and Anderson have met in the SAC Tournament since the South Carolina team joined the league. In 2013, the Trojans bounced the Pioneers out of the conference semifinals and also the Southeast Regional.
RECAPPING THE WEEK
The Black and Orange took full advantage of a packed Pioneer Arena this weekend. Tusculum overwhelmed and shut down Anderson on Alumni Night, beating them for the first time in five seasons and swept the Trojans for the first time since 2013. The Pioneers also finished a season-sweep of the Newberry Wolves.
Emiah Burrowes once again led the Tusculum offense for the week, compiling 25 kills on a .281 hitting percentage, averaging over 3.5 kills per set. Gabby Gray hit almost .300 in the seven sets for 20 kills. Newly-minted SAC AstroTurf Player of the Week Tatum Thornton crushed 18 kills on a .351 clip. Taylor Blythe and Aubrey Hawkins also reached double-digit kills with 13 and 11, respectively. At the service line, Burrowes and Elise Carmichael notched four aces apiece. Gray, Blythe, Catherine Clingan, and Carly Sosnowski each recorded a pair of aces.
Defensively, Sosnowski led the way with 29 digs, followed by 26 from Gray. Burrowes and Carmichael are both credited with 15 digs. At the net, Thornton had a big week, having a hand in 10 total blocks (six solo, four assists). Blythe notched five total blocks, including one solo.
Carmichael and Clingan combined for the setting duties, collectively dishing out 83 of Tusculum's 95 assists. The freshman Carmichael finished with 51 assists at a 7.29 per set pace, while the sophomore Clingan collected 32 assists at over a 4.5 per set rate.
Tusculum leads the SAC in assists (1,287) and kills (1,351), and is second in assists per set (12.38). The Pioneers are also in the top half of the conference in 10 other statistical categories, including kills per set, aces per set, hitting percentage, service aces, total blocks, and opponent hitting percentage. Individually, Clingan leads the conference in aces per set (.50), good for 15th across Division II. Blythe is second in the SAC in hitting percentage (.382), 21st nationally. Burrowes is third in the league in kills (320) and kills per set (3.52).
Anderson (21-6, 17-5 SAC) will face the Pioneers for the second time in four days after Tusculum blanked the Trojans on Friday night. Maya Learmonth heads up the attack with 250 kills, followed by Hailee Wilhelm (240) and Regan Duty (217). Emily Conlin became Anderson's all-time career assist leader earlier this month and has surpassed 1,000 assists this season (1,065). Lindsay McCurley has recorded 45 service aces and 393 digs to lead the team. Noelle Knutsen has collected the most total blocks with 78 (13 solo, 65 assists). The Trojans lead the SAC in aces with 223, 10th in Division II, and are second in aces per set (2.12), 11th in the division, and assists (1,248). Conlin's assists per set (10.54) and total assists lead the SAC. She is also the active career leader in service aces across Division II (184) and third in assists (4,922). However, in the most recent matchup, Conlin did not record an ace and had two service errors in Pioneer Arena.
Since the two teams first started playing one another in 2005, Tusculum holds the slight edge in the series over Anderson 16-12. Each team was victorious in their home gym in this year's previous encounters. Tusculum took a set off of the Trojans to begin October and swept Anderson in the penultimate match of the regular season in Pioneer Arena.
Links to live stats and video for Tusculum University athletic events can be found through tusculumpioneers.com.