Lady Mocs clinch fourth seed in Southern Conference Tournament with 3-2 win at Elon
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Senior middle blocker Julianna Martinez (Austin, Texas) and sophomore outside hitter Ashley Yeager (Parker, Colo.) combined for 31 kills and freshman setter Bailee Chastain (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) posted a team-high 42 assists as Chattanooga, (18-13, 13-5) defeated Elon (17-15, 11-7) in a Southern Conference volleyball match Sunday afternoon in Elon, N.C. The Lady Mocs defeated the Phoenix 22-30, 30-16, 27-30, 30-28 and 16-14 to collect their 13th conference victory and claim the fourth seed for the Southern Conference Tournament.
After battling through four games, Chattanooga opened the decisive fifth game with a 7-2 run before Elon made a game of it with an impressive 7-1 run to take the lead 9-8. After trading points and battling through four ties over the next several plays, the Phoenix tied the game and then took the lead, 14-13, with back-to-back kills.
Elon then followed that with consecutive errors to bring the Lady Mocs to game point and Julianna Martinez made sure that Chattanooga capped off the regular season with a win, drilling her 16th kill for the 16-14 victory.
It didn’t start out as an ultra competitive match, however, as the Phoenix took Game 1 30-22 behind the strength of a 16-4 run that included eight straight points in the heart of the frame.
The Lady Mocs turned the table in Game 2, completely taking over the set with Elon leading 14-13. At that point Chattanooga rolled up 12 straight points as they used a 17-2 run to close out the 30-16 victory.
Games 3 and 4 were anything but blowouts as each team came away with narrow victories to send it to a fifth game. Elon regained control of the match in the third game, jumping out to an 11-6 lead before UTC rallied to within 16-14. The Phoenix then used a 7-1 run to extend to a 23-15 lead and withstood an 11-6 run by the Lady Mocs before closing out the game 30-27 and taking a 2-1 match lead.
After battling through six ties early on in Game 4 that left the score at 9-9, Chattanooga used an 8-3 run to take a 17-13 lead before Elon’s 6-2 run tied the score at 19-19. Trailing 22-21, the Lady Mocs regained the lead, 28-24, with a key 7-2 run of their own before four straight points by the Phoenix once again tied the score, this time at 28-28. Back-to-back points by Chattanooga then put the game away, 30-28, and set up UTC’s fifth game heroics.
Elon was led offensively by junior outside hitter Jessica Barrow and senior setter Natalie Moore with game-highs of 20 kills and 48 assists, respectively, and also received double-digit kill performances from freshman outside hitter Lauren Copenhagen, senior outside hitter Brittany Westphal and freshman middle blocker Sara Schermerhorn. Defensively, junior libero Kelley Blakewood led with a game-high 32 digs and was joined by senior middle back Emily Lucci and junior defensive specialist Shelley MacBean with 14 and 11 digs respectively.
Martinez led the offensive attack for the Lady Mocs with 16 kills and a .481 hitting percentage while Yeager added 15 kills and 16 digs. Junior libero Lara Newberry (Chattanooga, Tenn.) led the defense with 29 digs and was joined by senior outside hitter Jamie Engel (Troy, Ill.) with 16 digs. Chastain added 10 digs to go along with her 42 assists while senior middle blocker Leslee Ball (Sycamore, Ill.) finished with 12 kills and eight digs.
The Lady Mocs will head into the 2007 Southern Conference Tournament at Chattanooga as the fourth seed following today’s 3-2 victory. The tournament will begin on Friday, November 16 with four first round games and will proceed to the semi-finals on Saturday, November 17 with games at 2:00 and 4:30 p.m. The Southern Conference Championship game will be Sunday, November 18 at 2 p.m. All matches will be held at Chattanooga’s Maclellan Gym.
UTC will play the 7:30 match on Friday against the fifth seed.
Newberry finishes the regular season with 863 digs and is currently 61 digs away from the NCAA single season record of 924 digs.