Lexington, Ky. – The Transylvania volleyball team moved forward in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference volleyball tournament with a laborious four-set first round victory against the Mount St. Joseph University Lions Wednesday evening at the Beck Center.
The tournament No. 3 seed Transylvania weaved a 25-21, 17-25, 25-13, 25-20 victory against the No. 6 seed Lions to advance to Saturday's 5:00 p.m. HCAC semifinal match against No. 2 seed Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
Having disposed of the Lions in the same building just one week before in its regular-season finale, Transylvania's second meeting with Mount St. Joseph brought forth an added dose of pressure and firepower to contend with.
Evoking images of the strong finish to their HCAC slate, the Pioneers came out swinging in the first set to the tune of a 25-21 win, courtesy of 12 early assists from sophomore setter Hannah Talkers and five kills from junior middle blocker Darby Bourdon.
The second set witnessed an instant momentum shift; the Lions surged ahead 5-1 and the Pioneers spent the rest of the set battling back. While the Pioneers fought back to tie the set at 7-7, the Lions built a 16-9 lead to cruise to a 25-17 victory.
Transylvania regained its footing in the third set as decisive kills were levied by junior outside hitter Jennifer Buckman and freshman Ellie Stigger to push the Pioneers ahead, 12-6. A powerful kill from the left side by sophomore outside hitter Taryn Glass vaulted Transy to its largest margin of victory of the evening's four sets as the Pioneers won, 25-13.
The fourth set was a grudge match as both teams battled tightly down the stretch. The Lions held an 18-17 lead but after the visitors committed an error that led to an 18-18 tie, the Pioneers scored seven of the final nine points to end their final home match of the year on a winning note.
"We had a little bit of a lull, but we showed that we can battle back, and the crowd really helped us out as well," commented Coutinho of her final win at the Beck Center. "We got back to the way we played and honed in on what we know we can do and what kind of team we are."
The senior finished off her final match at the Beck Center with 19 digs and six assists. Talkers led the Pioneers with 41 of the team's 50 assists, and added a match-high 23 digs in victory. Stigger had an all-around game with 12 kills, six digs, and four blocks, while Glass registered a season-high 13 kills for the Pios.
The Pioneers improved their record to 20-9 in 2017, and 8-2 against HCAC opposition.
Transylvania's Saturday semifinal match against Rose-Hulman will send the winner to Sunday's 1:00 p.m. championship match. Both games will be held in Hanover, Indiana on the campus of No. 1 seed Hanover College.
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