HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Third-seeded Lincoln Memorial overcame a two-set deficit and upended second-seeded Anderson, 3-2 (24-26, 25-27, 26-24, 25-22, 15-7) in the semifinals of the 2018 South Atlantic Conference Volleyball Tournament, Friday night at the DeLoach Center.
Anderson slipped to 27-5 overall and has dropped two of its last three decisions. The Trojans have consistently been ranked fourth in the NCAA Southeast Region rankings and will be looking for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament when the selections are announced Sunday night.
Lincoln Memorial improved to 20-8 on the season and has won six of its last seven outings, with the lone setback coming at the hands of top-seeded Wingate. The Lady Railsplitters will face the 24th-ranked Bulldogs in Saturday's title match.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Senior Jayln Knight notched her 15th double-double of the season with a team-high 15 kills and 19 digs, while freshman Liliana Kinder added 14 kills. Redshirt freshman Hannah Worsham tallied 10 kills and redshirt sophomore Hailee Wilhelm posted nine kills and five block assists. Junior setter Emily Conlin recorded her 21st double-double of the season with 51 assists and 26 digs. Freshman Meghan DeVaux came up with 28 digs, with senior Megan Embry notching 10 digs.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Trojans overcame an early 5-1 deficit and claimed their first lead, at 10-9, on an attack error by the Lady Railsplitters. AU steadily built a 15-10 advantage and later still held an 18-14 lead before LMU used a 5-1 surge to knot the score for the third time, at 19 apiece.
The score was deadlocked four more times before Worsham and Kinder knocked down back-to-back kills to lift AU to the win.
The Trojans overcame eight attack errors in the second frame after jumping out to an early 8-4 lead. But LMU countered with a 10-3 scoring outburst to claim a three-point edge (14-11).
AU responded by posting eight unanswered points to gain a 19-14 edge, as Wilhelm helped fuel the breakout. The 'Splitters refused to go quietly, as they chipped away and eventually took a late 25-24 lead. But the Trojans held fast, as Knight evened the score with her fourth kill of the set and AU took the victory on back-to-back attack errors by LMU.
AU fell behind by six points early and was unable to completely recover until late in the frame, with the Lady Railsplitters holding the lead until junior Kathryn Hughes knocked down back-to-back kills to tie the score at 23 apiece and force an LMU timeout.
Following the break, Knight put the Trojans on the verge of the win with her third kill of the frame, but LMU rallied to take the set on back-to-back kills.
With Kinder posting a pair of kills, the Trojans snapped the sixth tie of the set with five unanswered points and claimed a 19-14 lead, but LMU countered with a 6-1 surge of its own to even the score at 20 apiece.
Worsham and Kinder then posted back-to-back kills to give AU a 22-20 edge before the Lady Railsplitters claimed the win with five consecutive points.
LMU broke an early 2-2 deadlock with four unanswered points and never trailed, as the 'Splitters built a six-point cushion before claiming the eight-point win.
STAT OF THE MATCH
The largest lead by either team through the first four sets was six points.
• The Trojans are 2-2 in five-set matches this season.
• Hailee Wilhelm has averaged nearly 15 kills per match over the last eight matches.
• Jayln Knight has averaged nearly 12 kills and nearly 18 digs over the last seven outings.
• Liliana Kinder has averaged nearly 12 kills per match over the last eighth outings.
• Freshman Meghan DeVaux has averaged nearly 21 digs per match over the last seven matches.
Anderson will be seeking its second straight at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament when the selections are announced Sunday night. The NCAA Selection Show is slated for 10 p.m. and can be viewed via www.NCAA.com.
2018 SAC Volleyball Championship
Tuesday, Nov. 6 (at highest seeds)
Game 1: #1 Wingate 3, #8 Catawba 0
Game 2: #4 Carson-Newman 3, #5 Lenoir-Rhyne 0
Game 3: #2 Anderson 3, #7 Mars Hill 1
Game 4: #3 Lincoln Memorial 3, #6 Queens 0
Friday, Nov. 9 (at Coker College)
Game 5: #1 Wingate 3, #4 Carson-Newman 0
Game 6: #3 Lincoln Memorial 3, #2 Anderson 2
Saturday, Nov. 10 (at Coker College)
Game 7: #1 Wingate vs. #3 Lincoln Memorial, 2:00pm