FLORENCE, S.C. – Senior Jayln Knight and sophomore Kaitlyn Grube combined for 31 kills to help lead the Anderson University volleyball team to a 3-0 (25-17, 28-26, 25-20) sweep of host Francis Marion, at the Coker/Francis Marion Fall Invitational, Friday night at the Smith University Center.
Anderson (2-0) captured its second win of the day, while Francis Marion, which earlier fell to South Atlantic Conference-member Catawba in five sets, slipped to 0-2 on the early season.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Knight led all players with 16 kills on an impressive .485 hitting percentage and posted her second double-double in as many outings by adding 11 digs. Grube also garnered her second double-double of the day with 15 kills and 14 digs. Junior outside hitter Kathryn Hughes notched six kills. Junior setter Emily Conlin narrowly missed her second double-double of the day after dishing out a match-high 43 assists and coming up with nine digs. The Glendale, Ariz., native also recorded five service aces. Senior libero Emily Conard shared team-high honors with 14 digs.
HOW IT HAPPENED
An early surge lifted the Trojans to a 7-4 advantage but the host Patriots scored four unanswered points to claim their first lead before Knight's third kill sparked three straight points by the Trojans and began a 6-1 run that culminated in a 13-9 lead by the Black and Gold.
Francis Marion managed to trim the AU lead to two twice, but the Trojans refused to relinquish the advantage and steadily built a 21-15 lead before closing out the frame by scoring four of the final six points.
The second stanza featured four early ties and a pair of lead changes before the Patriots snapped a 6-6 deadlock by reeling off three consecutive points to stake a 9-6 advantage.
Francis Marion doubled up the Trojans, at 14-7, before AU's Knight and Hughes posted back-to-back kills and triggered a 6-0 outburst that was capped by Conlin's second ace of the surge. But the Trojans were unable to overtake FMU, as the Patriots countered with a 4-1 run to rebuild a four-point lead.
With the Trojans still trailing, 19-15, Knight sandwiched a pair of kills around a block by freshman Noelle Knutsen, and an error by the Patriots knotted the score for the fifth time, at 19 apiece. AU was unable to wrestle the lead away at that point and with the score even at 21-21, Francis Marion posted three straight points and was on the verge of winning the set.
Trailing, 24-21, the Trojans refused to surrender and held off set point three times before rallying for the win on back-to-back kills from Hughes and Knight.
Francis Marion scored the first point of the final set, but the Black and Gold responded with a 9-3 surge while hitting over .300. The Patriots closed within two on four occasions and within 13-12 before going on a 4-1 surge to turn a four-point deficit into a two-point lead, at 16-14.
Again, the Trojans rallied and claimed a 19-18 lead when Grube and freshman Neely Shugart combined on a block. An ace from Conard boosted AU's lead to two, but Francis Marion scored two straight to even the score at 20 apiece.
Shugart then sparked AU's final run with another kill, as the Trojans scored the final five points of the set.
• The Trojans have won two straight matches to open a season for the fifth straight year.
• The Trojans' .344 hitting percentage in the first set was the highest of the season.
Anderson will look for its third consecutive victory when the Trojans face Virginia Union, Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at the Smith University Center.