Lady Railsplitters beat Tusculum in 5
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. — Senior Kaitlin Walton charted a match-high 17 kills and Jazzy Oates added 12 to lead the Lady Railsplitters to a thrilling five-set victory (25-16, 19-25, 20-25, 25-21, 15-13) at Tusculum on Tuesday. Lincoln Memorial University sweeps the season series versus the Pioneers, improving to 13-7 on the season and 9-3 in SAC play. Tusculum falls to 12-7 overall and 7-5 in league play.
Walton recorded double-digit kills for the sixth straight match and her 17 kills were a match high. Oates posted her 12 kills on only 27 attempts for a .370 hitting clip. The sophomore middle blocker added six digs and two block assists. Freshman Brooke Fleeman churned out eight kills while Kendra Gephart posted seven to go along with 18 digs.
Freshman Abby Cash led all players in the match with 41 assists to go along with two service aces and 11 digs. Sophomore Casey Mense backed a solid defensive outing for LMU with 27 digs while carding three aces.
Danae Stauffer and Megan Hasse paced the Pioneers offensively with 13 kills apiece. Stauffer headlined that duo with a .209 attack percentage. Rachel Garnett added 11 kills to give Tusculum three double-digit kill performances in the match. Hannah Berling and Ashley Sarmiento combined for 50 assists in the match, a number carried by Berling’s 29-assist effort. Caitlyn Dean led all players in the match with 33 digs.
The Lady Railsplitters sprung out to a 13-5 lead by the midway point of the opening set, a stretch that was paced by a blistering start from Walton who provided five of the 13 points with kills. Later in the set, Oates provided a kill and a service ace to push the lead to 20-12. The Pioneers got two kills from Victoria Ashley during a 3-0 run to get as close as 21-16. Following a timeout, the Lady Railsplitters stopped the bleeding, running off four-straight points to capture the first frame, 25-16.
It was a back-and-forth start to the second set with a LMU getting two kills from Fleeman to get as close as 12-11 before the Pioneers took four of the next five points to push out to a 16-12 cushion. Tusculum continued to extend their lead late in the set, as kills from Stauffer, Jaida Allen and Ashley made the score 20-15. The Lady Railsplitters were unable to overcome that deficit, as the Pioneers recorded their last nine points with kills to claim the second frame, 25-19.
The third set passed the midway mark with neither team mounting a lead larger than two points. Gephart gave the Lady Railsplitters a 16-15 lead with a kill, but the Pioneers answered with a 7-0 run buoyed by four LMU miscues as well as kills from Megan Hasse and Garnett. Tusculum went on to take the set 25-20.
The Pioneers broke away from an 8-8 stalemate in the fourth set with a 4-0 rally capped by a kill from Megan Hasse to build a 12-8 cushion.The Lady Railsplitters quickly drew out of that hole, winning 12 of the next 17 points to push in front, 20-17. Walton headlined that run with three kills while Gephart, Fleeman and Beavers added one kill apiece. The Pioneers fought back to tie the game at 20-20 with two LMU attack errors and a Megan Hasse kill. However, the Lady Railsplitters were on the winning side of the final momentum swing, as four LMU kills paced a 5-1 rally to close the set, 25-21, sending the match into a decisive fifth frame.
Tusculum held sway early in the fifth frame, using an Ashley kill and an LMU ball-handling error to mount an 8-5 lead. The Lady Railsplitters closed the gap to 9-8 with a service ace but followed that up with a service error to give the Pioneers a 10-8 cushion. LMU ran off four straight points carried by two Casey Mense service aces to take a 12-10 lead. Tusculum briefly countered with kills by Rachel Garnett and Kassie Voelker to take a 13-12 lead, forcing an LMU timeout. Coming out of the timeout, the Lady Railsplitters closed the match with an Oates kill and two Pioneer attack errors to take the 15-13 clincher.
The Lady Railsplitters return to the court on Thursday at Mars Hill.
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