Women's Volleyball

Bobcats fight off Crusaders in four sets

Bobcats fight off Crusaders in four sets
Box score

BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Megan Epperson (St. John, Ind.) posted a season-high 24 kills to lead the Lees-McRae College women's volleyball team to a hard-fought 3-1 win over North Greenville University on Wednesday evening in Conference Carolinas play.

Lees-McRae (19-6, 14-0 CC) posted eight blocks and 57 digs on the night, attacking at a .136 clip while limiting North Greenville (12-14, 3-10 CC) to a .053 hitting percentage. The Bobcats also tallied 12 service aces, while the Crusaders posted nine blocks.

Epperson posted a match-high 24 kills, moving within nine kills of tying former Bobcat All-American Whitney Justice's all-time record of 1,347 smashes. Junior Megan Mitchell (Minden, Nev.) also moved within striking distance of a career milestone, posting a match-high 45 assists to close to within 22 helpers of the 3,000-mark for her career. Taylor Clendenin (Statesville, N.C.) and Lauren Fox (Garland, Texas) each added nine kills, while Jessica Singewald (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) chipped in seven smashes.

Freshman Sariah Suryadevara (Cincinnati, Ohio) posted a match-high 17 digs, while Clendenin, Molly Corhn (Hendersonville, N.C.), and Epperson tallied 13, 10, and nine savers, respectively. Mitchell and Suryadevara each added a match-high five aces, while Fox posted a team-best four blocks.

Rebakah Mayes and Lauren Seeley paced the Crusaders with nine kills each, while Kaitlyn Pierce added six smashes. Kaitlyn Harris chipped in a team-high 12 digs, as Mayes and Kendra Meek dug nine and eight Bobcat attacks, respectively. Abigail Frame posted 26 assists, as Pierce recorded a match-high six blocks.

The first set proved to be a tightly contested affair, with neither team claiming more than a two-point advantage until the Crusaders took a 22-19 lead on back-to-back Bobcat miscues. Lees-McRae responded with three quick points, evening the score at 22-22 on an Epperson kill before claiming a 24-23 lead on a Mitchell service ace. After Pierce leveled the margin at 24-24 with a kill, Epperson and Laura Thomas (Broadway, N.C.) answered with back-to-back smashes to give the Bobcats a 26-24 first-set win.

Lees-McRae came out firing in the second set, taking an early 7-1 lead on a Mitchell ace before North Greenville responded, launching a 14-7 run to claim a 15-14 advantage on a Bobcat miscue. After the Bobcats took a narrow 17-16 advantage on back-to-back kills from Epperson, North Greenville responded with a 6-0 run to open a 22-17 lead. The Bobcats answered with a 6-2 spurt, closing the gap to 24-23 before North Greenville closed out the set on a Seeley kill to even the match at 1-1.

The Crusaders carried the momentum into the third set, taking an early 6-4 lead before the Bobcats responded with a 9-4 run, claiming a 13-10 advantage on back-to-back NGU miscues. North Greenville fought back with a 10-1 spurt, opening a 20-14 lead on a service ace by Frame before Lees-McRae answered with a 4-0 run of its own, closing the gap to 20-18 on a Fox kill to force an NGU timeout. The Bobcats completed the rally moments later, answering a pair of Crusader points with a 7-0 run to close out the set on a trio of kills from Epperson.

Lees-McRae rallied from an early deficit once again in the fourth set, launching a 9-0 run midway through the frame to take a 17-10 lead on four aces from Suryadevara. The Bobcats shut the door from there, opening a 24-13 advantage on a Clendenin smash before closing out the set and the match on a Crusader miscue.

The Bobcats return to the court on Friday when they travel to Greenwood, S.C. to take on Augusta State University and No. 16 Armstrong Atlantic State University on the first day of Lander University's Crossover Tournament. Lees-McRae will take on Augusta State at 5 p.m. before squaring off with Armstrong Atlantic at 7 p.m.

- LMC -