BREVARD, N.C. — The Lady Railsplitters’ run in the 2012 Food Lion SAC Volleyball Championship came to a close with a four-set loss (25-27, 25-15, 25-22, 25-23) to Tusculum College (22-6) in the semifinal match on Saturday afternoon. The loss drops Lincoln Memorial University to 21-13 on the season.
Despite making a thrilling comeback to capture the opening set, the Lady Railsplitters dropped the next three frames to suffer a 3-1 loss to the Pioneers to conclude their SAC Championship run. Blaire Fowler highlighted the offensive effort for Lincoln Memorial with 14 kills, pairing that number with 11 digs to tally another double-double. Right side Kaitlin Walton = nearly matched Fowler’s offensive output with 13 kills on 29 attempts in the match.
Allison Beavers notched her second-consecutive triple-double for the Lady Railsplitters, finishing with 10 kills, 22 assists and 10 digs. Jennifer Drumm compiled eight kills and nine digs.
Beavers’ running mate, Brittany Pugh, capped the contest with a game-high 26 assists.
The Lady Railsplitters won the match defensively, out-digging (61-58) and out-blocking (9.0-8.0) the Pioneers. However, Tusculum offset that effort by holding the edge offensively, as they outhit (59-55) the Lady Railsplitters while maintaining a higher percentage (.253-.226). The two teams were nearly even in miscues with LMU recording 22 attack errors and the Pioneers getting flagged for 21.
Of the Pioneers’ 59 kills, Danae Stauffer, Kassie Voelker and Megan Hasse combined for 43, headlined by Stauffer’s 15 put aways. Hasse and Voelker added 14 kills apiece for TC. Sam Underwood got into the act for the Pioneers with seven kills.
Hannah Berling and Ashley Sarmiento split setting duties for Tusculum, as the pair notched 23 assists apiece in the winning effort. Caitlyn Dean led all players with 21 digs, while Sarmiento added 11 to record a double-double.
In the opening set, the Lady Railsplitters found themselves facing a seemingly insurmountable 16-7 deficit by the midway point. After a timeout, LMU began to chip away at the Pioneer advantage, driving the score to 20-17 in Tusculum’s favor with a service ace from Blaire Fowler. TC took two of the next three points, however, the Lady ‘Splitters answered with a 6-1 run, highlighted by a pair of Kaitlin Walton kills to grab a 24-23 lead. The teams traded three-consecutive points to knot the game at 25-25 before LMU received a pair of closing kills from Allison Beavers to steal a 27-25 win in the first stanza.
The second frame went in dominant fashion to the Pioneers, as they shot out of the gates and established an 18-4 lead, headlined by four aces from Caitlyn Dean. Lincoln Memorial closed the gap to 24-15, but it was too late as Tusculum shut the door with a kill from Kassie Voelker to knot the match at a set apiece.
The third set saw the Lady Railsplitters regain the momentum in the early portion, running out to a 7-2 lead on the wings of five kills. The Pioneers responded by storming back into the lead with a 7-0 rally to get on top of the board at 9-7. The two teams traded points over the ensuing stretch until LMU pulled away at 19-16 to force a TC timeout. Coming out of the break, the Pioneers put themselves on the winning end of the final rally, squaring the set at 21-21 and eventually closing on a 4-1 run to take a 25-22 set victory.
In the fourth and final set, the Lady Railsplitters held sway throughout the majority of the frame, sitting on top 23-21 as the fourth set neared the conclusion. From that point the Pioneers used a 4-0 run, capped with a Megan Hasse kill, to take a 25-23 victory and claim a spot in the championship match of the 2012 Food Lion SAC Volleyball Championship.