MARS HILL, N.C. - The Mars Hill volleyball team (14-6, 8-4 SAC) fell in five sets to the South Atlantic Conference leading and undefeated Wingate Bulldogs (19-0, 12-0 SAC) in a thrilling contest held inside Stanford Arena Saturday afternoon.
After taking a 2-0 lead over Wingate, the Lions were moments away from sweeping the Bulldogs late in the third set. Leading 24-22, Mars Hill was unable to capitalize on their first two match points. After the Bulldogs tied the game at 24, a kill from Maddie Spurgeon once again afforded Mars Hill the opportunity to close out Wingate. Phoebe Havenaar would have back-to-back game saving kills to keep the Bulldogs in the fight. Tied at 27-all, kills from Rachel Alles and Hannah Givens won the set for Wingate.
Wingate jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the fourth, but then would sacrifice 10 of the next 12 points to Mars Hill. The Lions would lead until the midway point of the set before Wingate rattled off 12 of the next 14 points to go up 24-18 late. Despite the Lions taking three straight points, a kill from Sophie Schaff knotted the game at two sets apiece, forcing the deciding fifth set.
With the set tied at 3-all, Wingate would win six of the next eight points and lead 9-5 midway through the frame. They would go on to take six of the final nine points and complete the come-from-behind win to remain undefeated on the year.
In an evenly played first set, Mars Hill's late run would allow them to go up 1-0. Tied at 21-all in the final moments of the set, Mars Hill won four of the last five points. Kelly Jakaitis had two kills in that span. Jakaitis, along with Elizabeth Kaeser, had three kills each for the Lions while Sally Anne Johnson had four solo blocks.
The Lions trailed once (1-0) in the second set. Similarly to the first set, both teams traded points back and forth in the opening moments and remained within three points of one another until the Lions were able to push the lead further at the 10-6 mark. They would then go on to win eight of the next 12 points and lead 18-10 late in the frame. Wingate reeled off the next four points, but the Lions responded with a four point run of their own.
Schaff led all players with 20 kills and added six blocks. Alles had a game-high 54 assists, had 19 digs and chipped in seven kills. Kori Adams had a game-high 32 digs.
Both Johnson and Kaeser had 11 apiece. Johnson led all players with six solo blocks and nine total and Kaeser had 21 digs. Abby King led the Lions with 29 assists and picked up 11 digs. Ully Martins and Sarah Goodard had 31 and 29 digs, respectively.
Mars Hill hit .139 on the day to the Bulldogs .078.
The Lions hit the road on Tuesday, October 16th to take on Lenoir-Rhyne for the second and final time this season. First serve is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.