Senior Taylor Clendenin (Statesville, N.C.) tallied a match-high 20 smashes against USC Aiken to join the 1,000-kill club at Lees-McRae College, as the Bobcats dropped a pair of matches against Aiken and Conference Carolinas foe
North Greenville University on Saturday evening in Williams Gymnasium. USC Aiken (5-5) rallied to win the first match of the day by scores of 25-20, 24-26, 19-25, 25-22, and 15-7 over Lees-McRae (3-6, 0-2 CC), as North Greenville (6-7, 1-1 CC) outlasted the Bobcats in four sets by scores of 25-22, 25-22, 15-25, and 25-22 in the nightcap. Aiken and NGU held the Bobcats to a .177 hitting percentage on the day, as the Bobcats posted a .200 attacking clip against the Pacers in the opening match.
Clendenin paced the Bobcats with 29 kills on the day, including 20 smashes against the Pacers while recording the 1,000th kill of her career early in the fourth set. Jordan Banta (Virginia Beach, Va.) and Dana Oliver (Miami, Fla.) added 23 and 19 kills, respectively, while Angela Morse chipped in 18 smashes and a .400 hitting percentage. Megan Mitchell (Minden, Nev.) and Taylor Pritchett (Apex, N.C.) added 62 and 36 assists, respectively, as Sariah Suryadevara (Cincinnati, Ohio) posted 27 digs.
Match One: USC Aiken 3, Lees-McRae 2
Clendenin, Mitchell, and Oliver each posted a double-double in the contest, as Clendenin recorded a match-high 20 kills to go along with 11 digs. Mitchell added match-highs of 52 assists and four saves while posting 13 digs, as Oliver chipped in 13 kills and 13 savers. Banta posted 13 kills, while Morse added eight smashes and a .533 hitting percentage. Suryadevara also posted 16 digs in the contest.
Aiken jumped out to an early 10-4 lead in the opening set, pushing the margin to 13-6 on a Bobcat miscue before Lees-McRae cut the advantage to 17-14 following a block from Banta and Haydn Beatty (Norman, Okla.). The Pacers would answer with a 5-3 spurt, stretching the margin to 22-17 before closing out the 25-20 first set win on a kill from Leah Rodgers.
The Bobcats answered in the second set, opening the frame with a 6-0 run before Aiken countered with a 9-4 spurt to trim the margin to 10-9. After Aiken batted back to take a 17-16 advantage following a Bobcat miscue, Lees-McRae countered with a 4-2 spurt to claim a narrow 20-19 lead on a kill by Oliver.
The Pacers would answer with a 5-1 run to push the Bobcats to the brink at 24-21 before Lees-McRae answered a test of character with five straight tallies, battling back from three set points to claim the frame and even the match with a 26-24 victory following a clutch smash from Clendenin.
Lees-McRae carried the momentum into the third, opening the frame with a 10-5 run before pushing the margin to 19-11 following a service ace from Morse. The Pacers would answer with a 7-4 spurt, closing the gap to 23-18 before the Bobcats closed out the set on a Morse smash to take a 2-1 advantage in the match.
Clendenin opened the fourth set with a milestone smash for the Bobcats, spiking down the 1,000th kill of her career to kick start a 7-1 run that propelled Lees-McRae to an early 7-5 lead. Aiken would rally from the narrow deficit, leveling the score at 16-16 on a kill by Ashley Deidrich before claiming a 24-19 lead on the heels of a 7-1 run. The Bobcats battled back, trimming the margin to 24-22 on a Mitchell service ace before Deidrich closed out the frame with a kill to force a decisive fifth set.
The Pacers carried the momentum into the fifth, opening the frame on a 10-3 run highlighted by back-to-back kills from Deidrich. Lees-McRae would trim the margin to 10-5 on a Banta service ace before Aiken answered, countering with a 5-2 spurt to close out the set and the match on a block by Deidrich and Hannah Tierney.
Match Two: North Greenville 3, Lees-McRae 1
Morse and Banta paced a balanced attack for the Bobcats against the Crusaders, each tallying 10 kills while Clendenin and Beatty both chipped in nine smashes. Pritchett posted a double-double with 36 assists and 10 digs, while Clendenin added a match-high 15 savers and Morse chipped in a team-best four block assists. Suryadevara also recorded 11 digs for the Bobcats as Oliver and Banta each notched two service aces.
Lees-McRae got off to a strong start in the first set, opening an early 8-5 lead on an emphatic block by Morse and Kallai Johnston (Statesville, N.C.). After the Bobcats pushed the margin to 18-13 on a smash from Clendenin, North Greenville rallied with a 10-2 surge to claim a 23-20 advantage following a kill from Yomi Adeyeye. The Crusaders would hold from there, taking the first frame by a score of 25-22 on a pair of kills from Samantha Del Toro.
North Greenville carried the momentum into the second, opening the frame with a 10-3 run before the Bobcats responded with a 9-2 spurt to even the tally at 12-12 on a service ace from Mitchell. The Bobcats would continue to press the attack, countering a 5-2 Crusader spurt with a 6-2run of their own to claim a narrow 20-19 advantage following an NGU miscue. North Greenville answered with a 5-2 spurt, closing out the set on a kill by Rebekah Mayes to take a two-sets-to-none advantage in the match.
The Bobcats battled back in the third set, opening the frame with a 10-5 run before pushing the margin to 16-8 following a block from Clendenin and Morse. Lees-McRae continued to dictate play over the remainder of the set, taking a 20-12 lead on a block by Oliver and Beatty before closing out the frame with a 4-0 spurt to trim the margin to 2-1.
North Greenville answered in the fourth, taking an early 9-4 lead before pushing the margin to 17-12 following a Del Toro kill. The Bobcats would battle back, trimming the advantage to 22-20 with an 8-5 spurt and fighting off two match points, before North Greenville closed out the set and the match on a kill from Mayes.
Lees-McRae returns to the court on Tuesday when the Bobcats travel to Gaffney, S.C. to take on Limestone College in league play at 7 p.m.
Photo Courtesy: Taylor Clendenin, LMC Athletics