MARS HILL, N.C.-- The Mars Hill volleyball team swept Lincoln Memorial in three sets to earn a South Atlantic Conference victory in the Lions home opener at Stanford Arena Tuesday night.
Mars Hill earned 25-20 and 25-22 victories in the first two sets before prevailing 31-29 in a marathon third set. The Lions were paced by Toni Cole with 12 kills, while Regan Macomson and Marissa Wixson added nine-apiece. Kaitlan Walton paced Lincoln Memorial with 11 kills. Mars Hill improved to 7-5 overall, 1-2 in SAC play. Lincoln Memorial is now 7-5 overall, 1-1 in conference matches.
The Lions broke open the first set with a pair of runs. With Maggie Murphy holding serve, the Lions turned an early 5-4 lead into a 9-5 cushion. Highlighting the run was a kill by Jill Biediger and a block by Cole and Hillary Gambrell. Later, with the Lions holding an 11-7 advantage, Mars Hill ripped off four more consecutive points with Christen Nicholson serving. Cole and Wixson combined on a block to highlight the run. Mars Hill held the Railsplitters to a .021 hitting percentage in the first set. Murphy topped all Lions with 21 digs in the match, with Nicholson added nine.
The Lions led by as much as four late in the second set on a kill by Macomson to make it 23-19. The Railsplitters threatened the lead late to pull as close as 24-22 on a kill by Walton, but Cole put away the final point to seal the victory for MHC.
The largest lead for either team in the final set was a 9-5 advantage by the Lions, which followed an ace by Wixson. The Lions had seven aces on the night, paced by Wixson's three. There were 13 times the score was knotted in the final set. With the score tied at 29-apiece, Cole served an ace to put the Lions up a point. MHC closed out the victory when the Railsplitters were unable to convert on an attack opportunity.
Each team had two setters reach double-digits in assists. Hannah Wilson passed out 16 to the lead the Lions, while Becca Smith added 14. Lincoln Memorial's Allison Beavers assisted on 18 kills, while Brittany Pugh added 15.
Mars Hill will travel to Jefferson City, Tenn. to face SAC-foe Carson-Newman on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 7:00 p.m.