MARS HILL, N.C. — Despite leading in nearly every major category, the Lady Railsplitters’ volleyball team suffered a 3-0 loss at the hands of the Mars Hill College Lions to open South Atlantic Conference play on Tuesday evening in Stanford Arena.
The loss drops LMU to 7-5 on the season and 0-1 in the South Atlantic Conferenc. The Lions move to 7-5 overall and 1-2 in conference play.
The Lady Railsplitters completed the match with a .104 attack percentage, but held the Lions under that mark, as MHC was limited to a .098 hitting percentage in the contest. Leading the way for LMU, Kaitlin Walton notched 11 kills on 29 attempts. Blaire Fowler recorded eight kills and eight digs to narrowly miss a double-double in the contest. Statiscally, Jazzy Oates had the strongest night offensively for LMU, as she finished with seven kills on only 13 attempts, good for a .385 attack percentage. Allison Beavers led all players with 18 assists, trailed closely by Brittany Pugh’s 15 assists to go along with her ten digs. Casey led the Lady Railsplitters with 16 digs.
LMU recorded 40 kills total in the match while the Lions were held to 36 in that same category. Toni Cole paced Mars Hill with a game-high 12 kills, while Marissa Wixson and Regan Macomson added nine apiece. Maggie Murphy led all players with 21 digs in the game. She accounted for nearly half of the Lions’ 59 digs, which was six short of the Lady ‘Splitters’ total of 65 digs in the match.
The first set saw the Lions grab the momentum early, as they stormed out to a 9-4 lead aided by six attack errors from the Lady Railsplitters over that span. Kills by Jazzy Oates and Kaitlin Walton cut the deficit to three, but that was answered by a 6-1 rally for the Lions. The offensive woes for Lincoln Memorial were a highlight of that streak as well, as four of the Lions’ six points came off attack errors from the Lady Railsplitters. Later in the set, a pair of service aces from Marissa Wixson effectively put the set out of reach with the Lions taking a 21-12 lead. LMU would pull to within four in the closing points, using an ace from Brittany Pugh to make it 24-20. However, the Lions grabbed the next point to capture a 25-20 victory in the opening set.
In the second set, Mars Hill raced out to an early 8-5 lead, sparked by a pair of kills from Regan Macomson in a 7-2 rally. LMU tied the game by taking the next three points, however, the Lions used four kills from four different players to grab a 13-10 advantage at the midway point. With the score holding at 15-12 in favor of MHC, the Lady Railsplitters earned three consecutive points to tie the game at 15 apiece. Mars Hill took the next two points before LMU tied the set for the final time at 17-17 on a kill from Jazzy Oates. From that juncture, the Lions grabbed hold of the set with a 6-2 run, highlighted by a kill from Marissa Wixson and a pair of kills from Macomson to take a 23-19 lead. LMU closed the deficit to 24-22 on a kill from Kaitlin Walton, but the Lions answered with a kill from Toni Cole to end the set, 25-22.
In similar fashion to the opening two sets, Mars Hill took early command of the third set, rallying out to a 9-4 lead. The Lady Railsplitters pushed back into the set by taking the next five points, paced by three attack errors from the Lions and an ace from Jennifer Drumm. Mars Hill held sway by taking five of the next seven points to grab a 14-11 lead at the midway point. Lincoln Memorial University hung tight, eventually tying the match at 16 apiece. That would be one of 11 ties in the closing stretch of the set as a back-and-forth game ensued. With the third stanza tied at 24-24, Mars Hill used an attack error from LMU to earn match point. The Lady ‘Splitters fought off match point and turned the tides, grabbing the next two points off of a Mars Hill attack error and a kill from Walton. Jill Biediger kept the set alive for the Lions with a kill in the next possession. LMU earned set point on one other occasion as Casey Mense notched a kill to take the score to 29-28 in favor of LMU. However, the Lady Railsplitters surrendered the next three points to drop the third and decisive set, 31-29.
The Lady Railsplitters hit the road for a pair of SAC battles this weekend, beginning with a trip to Anderson University on Friday at 7 p.m. On Saturday, LMU travels to Newberry College to take on the Wolves at 2 p.m.