WINGATE, N.C. – Sophomores Hailee Wilhelm and Regan Duty combined for 19 kills, as the fourth-seeded Anderson University volleyball team opened NCAA Southeast Region action by blanking No. 5 seed Lander, 3-0 (25-22, 25-11, 25-14) Thursday afternoon at Cuddy Arena.
Anderson improved to 28-5 on the season and equaled last year's squad for the most wins in a single season in school history. The Trojans have won seven of their last nine outings and have advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Regional for the second straight year. AU moves on to face the winner of the top-seeded Wingate/No. 8 seed Emmanuel match, Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
Lander's season came to an end with a 22-8 record.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Wilhelm tallied double-figure kills for the 16th time this season, as the Columbus, Ohio, native posted a team-high 10 kills on the day on the strength of a .364 hitting percentage. Duty added nine kills and a pair of solo blocks, with senior Jayln Knight notching six kills. Junior setter Emily Conlin notched a double-double with a match-high 31 assists and 12 assists. Freshman libero Meghan DeVaux came up with a match-best 19 digs, while senior Megan Embry posted 10 digs.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Trojans overcame eight attack errors in the opening frame and snapped an early 6-6 deadlock by capitalizing on an error by the Bearcats and a service ace from Conlin, who leads the South Atlantic Conference in aces.
AU built a three-point edge twice before Lander evened the score for the seventh and final time, at 13 apiece. Another attack error by the Bearcats gave AU a lead it would not relinquish, as AU opened a three-point lead four more times before posting three straight points and claiming its largest lead of the frame, at 23-18.
Lander responded with two consecutive points before Duty knocked down her third kill of the match to reach set point. The Bearcats held off twice before Wilhelm's third kill clinched the win.
The Trojans went from hitting .070 in the first set to a .405 hitting accuracy in the second frame. AU knocked down 17 kills with no errors in 42 swings, as the Black and Gold rolled to the 14-point victory.
Duty helped key an early surge with a pair of kills and a block that saw AU claim an early, 8-3, advantage. The Trojans never trailed and stretched their lead to seven on three occasions before taking a double-digit, 19-9, lead and closing out the win with a 6-2 outburst.
AU carried the momentum over into the final set, as the Trojans bolted to a quick, 10-1, lead and never looked back.
Anderson claimed its largest lead of the set, 16-3, on a kill by Kinder, with the Bearcats later using a 5-0 run to get within 19-13. But the Trojans responded by finishing out the set on a 6-1 run.
ANDERSON STAT OF THE DAY
The Trojans' eight service aces were the most since AU posted nine in a five-set win at Lincoln Memorial on Oct. 20.
• The Trojans have equaled last year's squad for the most wins in a single season.
• The Trojans have advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Southeast Regional for the second straight year.
• The Bearcats were making their third appearance in four years in the regional.
• The Trojans are making their second straight appearance and fifth overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament
• AU improved to 3-4 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
• Conlin has notched 22 double-doubles this season, including 10 straight, while reaching 40+ assists on 16 occasions and 50+ assists in six matches this season.
• Wilhelm has averaged more than 14 kills per match over the last nine outings.
Anderson's win sets up a possible matchup between the top two teams in the South Atlantic Conference, as the Trojans will square off against the winner of the top-seeded Wingate/No. 8 seed Emmanuel match, Friday night at 7:30 p.m. AU and Wingate split their regular-season matchups, with each team winning in four sets on its own home court.