GWU Volleyball Downs Tennessee Tech, 3-1; Dominates Alcorn State in 3-0 Win

GWU Volleyball Downs Tennessee Tech, 3-1; Dominates Alcorn State in 3-0 Win

Birmingham, Ala. - The Gardner-Webb volleyball team posted two wins on Friday at the Samford Bulldog Invitational in Birmingham, Ala., as the Runnin' Bulldogs defeated Tennessee Tech, 3-1, and then easily handled Alcorn State in straight sets, 3-0, in the night cap.

The two wins pushes GWU to 4-10 overall on the year and extends its winning streak to three-straight matches in a row.

Match 1: GWU 3, Tennessee 1

Gardner-Webb used a strong first set and a 10-0 run in the fourth set to defeat the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech, 3-1 in the two teams' first match of the Samford Bulldog Invitational.

GWU took the first two sets, 25-15 and 26-24, and after dropping the third set 20-25, bounced back with a 10-0 run in the fourth set to defeat the Golden Eagles 25-20 and take a 3-1 match victory.

"We'll gladly take a win. Emily played a solid and controlled match that paced us," Leo Sayles stated. "TTU's big block really frustrated our outside hitters and when we struggled passing it forced a lot of balls to them. Molly gave us some energy in set three and our service runs were the difference in the match."

Junior right side hitter Emily Holte continued her strong season, as she led the Runnin' Bulldogs with a career-high 14 kills and a career-high five total blocks, while fellow junior Erin Anderson added 10 kills and a service ace in the four set win. Sophomore Heather Feldman dished out 41 set assists and posted 10 digs, while freshman libero Anna Pashkova added 17 digs for the Runnin' Bulldogs.

Tennessee Tech had two players with double-digit kills in Kelsey Gray and Ellen Conti, while libero Courtney Smith recorded a match-high 19 digs in the loss.

The Runnin' Bulldogs got off to a slow start in the opening set, as the Golden Eagles took an early 2-0 lead out of the gates. However, Gardner-Webb responded with a 7-0 run, which included a kill from Anderson, Holte, and Amanda Murphy, to take a 7-2 lead over Tennessee Tech.

GWU would push its lead to 12-6 by way of five total kills, two from Holte and one each from Carolina Solano, Tyler Cockrell and Anderson, as the Runnin' Bulldogs had an answer for every Golden Eagle point.

After a 4-1 run by the Golden Eagles, which included back-to-back service aces from Madison Keyes, cut the GWU lead to three at 13-10, another kill by GWU's Anderson jump started a 4-2 run by the Runnin' Bulldogs allowing Gardner-Webb to stay out in front by five at 17-12 and force a Tennessee Tech timeout.

Five straight points, including two consecutive service aces from Holte, allowed the Runnin' Bulldogs to run out to a 22-12 lead on its way to a 25-15 set win.

The Runnin' Bulldogs posted 13 kills and a team attack percentage of .375 in the opening game.

Gardner-Webb again got off to a slow start in the second set, as the Golden Eagles took a 6-4 lead on back-to-back GWU attack errors.

A kill by Anderson tied the score up at 7-7 and then after a TTU error pushed the Runnin' Bulldogs in front by one at 8-7, the Golden Eagles retook the lead at 9-8 and stayed in front over the next several rallies to lead by two at 15-13.

After a point was awarded to Gardner-Webb on a Tennessee Tech rotation error, GWU picked up a kill from freshman outside hitter Callie Hildebrand to retie the score up at 15-15.

The Golden Eagles would retake the lead at 17-16 and stay out in front for the next several rallies, until a 4-0 run, highlighted by two kills from Anderson, pushed the Runnin' Bulldogs back in front at 21-19.

A 3-0 spurt by the Golden Eagles would put the visitors back in front at 24-23 and give Tennessee Tech set point.

GWU fought off three straight set points, using an Anderson kill and back-to-back attack errors by the Golden Eagles to earn the hard fought 26-24 set win and take a 2-0 match lead.

The Runnin' Bulldogs again fell behind early in the third set, as a ball handling error by GWU put the Golden Eagles in front by two at 5-3.

Two straight kills by Cockrell and Solano, followed by a set error by Tennessee Tech, put the Runnin' Bulldogs in front by one at 6-5.

The Golden Eagles controlled the next several rallies, as Tennessee Tech used an 9-6 run to fly out to a 17-11 lead over the Runnin' Bulldogs. However, GWU refused to go away, as a kill by Holte got the Gardner-Webb offense on track, as five straight points cut the Tennessee Tech lead to one at 17-16.

Out of a Tennessee Tech timeout, the Golden Eagles pulled back out in front by four at 21-17 on two straight kills from Cody Dodd, putting space between them and the Runnin' Bulldogs.

Back-to-back TTU errors put the Runnin' Bulldogs within two at 21-19, however, the Gardner-Webb would not get any closer for the rest of the set, as the Golden Eagles finished out the frame with a 4-1 run to take a 25-20 set win and force a fourth set.

Tennessee Tech carried over the momentum from the third set win to take a 12-5 lead in the start of the fourth set on three straight Gardner-Webb errors.

Looking to get back into the set, Gardner-Webb battled back with a huge 10-0 run, highlighted by two kills from Murphy, to come from seven point behind to take a three point lead at 15-12 over the Golden Eagles.

Kills from Murphy, Molly Rhyne and Cockrell pushed the Runnin' Bulldogs in front by five at 20-15, as Gardner-Webb looked to put both the set and match away.

Golden Eagles cut the GWU lead to three on several occasions, yet the Runnin' Bulldogs refused to relinquish the lead, finishing the set out on a 4-1 run to earn the 25-20 set win and a 3-1 match victory.

Despite giving up eight service errors and facing a total of 14 team blocks by the Golden Eagles, the Runnin' Bulldogs were strong at the net with 14 block assists and 49 kills for the afternoon.

Match 2: GWU 3, Alcorn State 0

Riding high off of the 3-1 match win over Tennessee Tech earlier in the evening, Gardner-Webb demolished Alcorn State, 3-0, sweeping the Braves 25-9, 25-11 and 25-6 in the win.

"I am proud of the team. We played everyone, yet each player was focused," Sayles continued. "Our younger players gained valuable experience today."

The Runnin' Bulldogs were led by three service aces apiece from senior Dominique Bray and freshman Devin Judge, as well as six kills from Tyra Montour and five from Hildebrand in the three set win.

For the Braves, Kenya Parker had a team-high four kills, while Jaclyn Kuzniar tallied a team-high nine digs in the loss.

The Runnin' Bulldogs dominated the first set, as GWU posted a .348 attack percentage in a 25-9 route of the Braves in the opening set.

GWU ran out to a 4-0 lead to open the match on a Holte kill, then pushed its lead to seven at 8-1 on back-to-back Alcorn State attack errors.

Alcorn State responded with a 4-0 run of its own to cut the GWU lead to three at 8-5, however, a 4-2 run by the Runnin' Bulldogs, capped off by two straight service aces, kept GWU in front by six at 12-6.

Again Alcorn State would put together back-to-back points to cut the Gardner-Webb lead to four at 12-8, yet the Runnin' Bulldogs would answer with perhaps its best play of the season, allowing the Braves only one more point for the remainder of the set.

With the score at 12-8, Gardner-Webb used a kill by Solano and an ace from Bray to put the lead at 14-8.

After a kill from Parker of Alcorn State put the score at 14-9, Gardner-Webb finished the set off with an 11-0 run to roll to a 25-9 set one win.

In the 11-0 run, GWU got five total kills from the combination of Anderson and Montour, while taking full advantage of six Alcorn State errors in the double-digit run.

GWU carried over the momentum from the first set blowout to the second set, as the Runnin' Bulldogs ran out to a 4-1 lead on a Hildebrand kill.

After a kill by Judge pushed the Runnin' Bulldogs lead to six at 8-2, Alcorn State put together a kill and a service ace to cut the Gardner-Webb lead to five at 12-7.

Alcorn State would cut the lead to five once more at 14-9, yet would not get any closer for the rest of the set, as GWU again used a big offensive run to pull away for the double digit set win.

A Braves' service error would put the Runnin' Bulldogs up 15-9 and jump-start an 11-2 run over the rest of the set, which included six straight points highlighted by three service aces from Judge, en route to a 25-11 second set win.

Looking to finish the match strong, Gardner-Webb refused to let up, as the Runnin' Bulldogs stormed out to a 9-1 lead on a kill by Solano to start the third set.

After a kill by Alcorn State's Deamber Doughty stopped the GWU run and put the score at 9-2, Gardner-Webb outscored the Braves 7-1 over the next eight rallies to take a demanding 16-3 lead on back-to-back aces from Bray.

Another Doughty kill put the score at 16-4 in favor of the Runnin' Bulldogs, but did not stop the scorching GWU offense, as GWU finished the set out on a 7-0 run, sparked by three kills from Rhyne off the bench in the 25-6 win.

The Runnin' Bulldogs posted a season-high .400 attack percentage overall in the third set, while only allowing Alcorn State three total kills in the frame.

For the match, the Runnin' Bulldogs posted 11 service aces, a season-high, and recorded a season-low 13 total errors (attack errors, service errors, receiving errors, ball handling errors and block errors).

Gardner-Webb (4-10) will return to the court tomorrow afternoon, as the Runnin' Bulldogs will look to make it four wins in a row as they will take on the Samford Bulldogs at 3 p.m. in the final day of the Samford Bulldog Invitational in Birmingham, Ala.

Match 2 Box Score: GWU 3, Alcorn State 0
Match 1 Box Score: GWU 3, Tennessee Tech 1