MARS HILL, N.C.-- The Mars Hill volleyball team came out on top of a back-and-forth five-set match to earn the victory over Catawba in South Atlantic Conference action at Stanford Arena Saturday afternoon.
The Lions prevailed 21-25, 25-14, 26-24, 19-25 and 16-14 to earn the 3-2 victory. Hannah Wilson, Becca Smith and Marissa Wixson all notched double-doubles to pace the Lions. Wilson and Smith handed out 25 assists apiece, while Smith added 11 digs and Wilson 10. Wixson record a team-high 18 kills and added 11 digs. Catawba was paced by Kaitlyn Whitmer's 26 kills and 15 digs. Jordan Raye added 37 assists and 20 digs for the Indians. Mars Hill improved to 12-9 overall, 5-6 in SAC matches. Catawba fell to 8-11 overall, 5-6 in conference play.
In addition to Wixson, three other Lions reached double figures in kills. Toni Cole added 14 kills, while Regan Macomson and Hillary Gambrell contributed 12 and 10 kills respectively. Maggie Murphy paced Mars Hill defensively with 24 digs. Christen Nicholson added 19 kills for MHC.
Jenny Young recorded a match-high 35 digs for Catawba. Alli Parrish totaled 22 assists and 10 digs, while Carson Brewer also recorded a double-double on 16 kills and 10 digs.
A 4-0 run in the first set by Catawba turned a seven-all tie into an 11-7 advantage for the Indians. Whitmer had a pair of kills in the run, which was capped when Brewer and Savannah Tomlinson combined on a block. The Lions would get no closer than that four-point margin the rest of the way.
Mars Hill jumped out to a 4-0 lead to take early control in the second set. A kill by Cole and an ace by Wixson highlighted the run. A later 5-1 run turned a 15-10 lead into a 20-11 cushion. A kill and ace by Wixson, an ace by Murphy and a kill by Macomson helped power the run. The Lions had four aces in the second set, and seven overall in the match.
The third set featured a lot of back-and-forth action, with neither squad leading by more than three points. The Lions took a 24-23 lead on a kill by Wixson to set up match point, but a kill by Parrish helped the Indians extend the match. With Catawba holding serve, Mars Hill struck back to take the lead on a kill by Wixson. The junior added the final point of the match on a kill to give MHC the victory.
Catawba raced out to a 3-0 lead and never trailed in the fourth set. The Lions ralled from trailing five to pull within 18-16 after a ball-handling error on the Indians. However, the Indians closed the door from there and Mars Hill never got any closer. Raye assisted or had the kill on all but one of the Indians final seven points.
The two teams traded leads in the final set, but Catawba appeared to seize control after a Brewer kill made the score 13-11. Wixson and Macomson's back-to-back kills knotted the score at 13. Macomson and Megan Parks then combined on a block to give MHC the lead, but Catawba answered with a kill by Parrish to extend the set. With Catawba holding serve, Macomson came through with a big kill to give MHC the lead. A solo block by Gambrell gave the Lions the victory.
Mars Hill will host South Atlantic Conference foe Carson-Newman on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 7:00 p.m. in Stanford Arena.