Lexington, Ky. – The Transylvania volleyball team took aim at a national power in their first appearance of the 2018 season, grabbing the first set from the No. 10 nationally-ranked Washington University in St. Louis Bears before the Bears grabbed a four-set win on the first night of the 2018 Transylvania Invitational at the Beck Center on Friday.
In the 2018 season opener for the Pioneers which also marked the collegiate head coaching debut for new Transylvania head coach Amy Barmore, Transylvania finished off an inspiring 26-24 set one win against Wash. U before the Bears won the following three sets 25-20, 25-15, and 25-18.
Friday night's match was an ambitious performance for the Pioneers, who tallied their highest win total in four years last season and returned all but one starter to a roster which finished second in their conference.
The tussle between the Bears and Pioneers served as a rematch of a late-season nonconference affair in 2017 when the Bears took all three sets in St. Louis.
On Friday, the Pioneers appeared primed early for a different result.
After falling behind in the first set by six points, the Pios rallied with junior libero Abby Wills holding serve to cut Wash. U's lead to 14-12. Transylvania inched closer when sophomore middle blocker Ellie Stigger delivered a pinpoint block.
The Bears regained momentum and carved a 21-18 lead but the Pioneers scored two straight points to thin the visitor's advantage to 21-20. While the Bears scored on the next rally to go ahead by two, junior right side hitter Jordan Horne delivered one of her co-team high 13 kills following a prior kill by senior middle blocker Darby Bourdon to knot up the set at 22-all.
Transylvania forced a 24-23 lead and went for the win, but a service error allowed the set to continue. Wash. U immediately returned the favor with a service error of its own, leaving the set tied at 24-24. The Pioneers made the most of deuce, as senior outside hitter Jennifer Buckman delivered a kill for the 25-24 advantage, and sophomore middle blocker Ellie Stigger concluded matters with the set-ending kill for the Pioneers.
In set two, Wash. U rediscovered its precision at the net, cultivating a 25-20 win by amassing 14 kills to just four errors. The Bears displayed their fangs in the third set, building a 24-11 lead before winning 25-15.
The fourth set featured ebbs and flows as the Bears took another early lead before the Pioneers battled back to try and force a deciding fifth set. Wash. U saw an 11-6 lead fade away as Horne's left hand brought the Pioneers to within a point at 15-14. The Pioneers would cut the lead to a single point again at 17-16 before the Bears pulled away to seal a 25-18 fourth set win to decide the match.
Stigger matched Horne's team-high 13 kills while adding a block in defeat. Junior setter and reigning Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year Hannah Talkers led the Pioneers on opening night with 36 assists and 14 digs.
Transylvania outdug Wash. U 53 to 47 while the Bears prevailed at the net with 19 blocks to Transy's six.
The Pioneers are back in action in a busy second day at the Transylvania Invitational which will feature four matches between four teams in attendance. Transylvania resumes action at 10:00 a.m. against Hope College before squaring off with No. 25 Berry College in the 4:00 p.m. nightcap at the Beck Center.
Tickets for Saturday's games are $10 for adults (good for all games) and $6 for students. Children ages 4 and under and college students who display their crimson card are admitted for free.
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