LEXINGTON, Ky. --- In opening round action at the Clive M. Beck Center, the #4 Transylvania University Pioneers (16-9, 5-4 HCAC) hosted the #5 Franklin College Grizzlies (16-14, 5-4 HCAC) with the winner moving on to the conference semi-finals on Saturday. Both teams met earlier in the season with the Pioneers taking a 3-1 win at Franklin on October 14th.
In front of a rowdy student section, the Pioneers came out inspired to establish an early offensive attack strategy and set the tone for the entire match. Sophomore Katelyn Maller would pace the Pioneers with five kills in the first set on her way to a career high 17 kills. Despite the offensive output and a series of big defensive digs from Audrey Brown, the Pioneers would drop the first set 25-19. The Pioneers would come out motivated in the second set and bolstered by two consecutive Sarah Jonas service aces would find its offensive groove. Led by Erin Romito and Madison Lovern each getting four kills each in the set, Transylvania would cruise to a second set win, 25-17.
The third period would be one of contrast between the two teams with both battling to establish a solid lead and take control of the match. Marissa Coutinho kept the Pioneers close netting 8 digs in the set, but the Grizzlies would pull away scoring the last three points of the set to win, 25-22. The fourth set would see the Pioneers jump out early to a 10-6 lead on a series of Romito kills only to have the Grizzlies stage a mini-comeback to tie the set at 14-14. The Pioneers fed off the momentum of a Shelby Catlett kill at 18-15 to push through and take the fourth set, 25-23.
The deciding set would see the Grizzlies sprint out to a 3-0 lead, only to have Transylvania battle back to tie it at 3-3. Neither team could gain the edge until Franklin capitalized on a 4-1 run to end the set winning, 15-11. Sarah Jonas would pace the Pioneers with 55 assists over the five set match. Audrey Brown would add 34 digs for the match.
The Pioneers end the 2015 season at 16-10, 5-4 HCAC. Follow future Transylvania University Volleyball news at www.transysports.com.