HARROGATE, Tenn. – Junior Hailey Pittman equaled a career-high kill tally, while junior Shannon Gillespie and freshman Priscilla Irizarry also reached double figure kills, but it was not enough, as the Anderson volleyball team fell to Lincoln Memorial, 3-2 (8-25, 25-22, 21-25, 25-23, 12-15) in South Atlantic Conference action Friday night at Mars Gym.
Anderson (9-10, 8-6 SAC) dropped its third consecutive decision, while Lincoln Memorial (14-8, 10-4 SAC), which was coming off a seven-day layoff, earned a split of the season series and improved to 6-0 at home on the season.
“We did play better but we have to do a better job of putting ourselves in a position to win,” said Anderson head coach Craig Mosqueda.
Lincoln Memorial raced out to a quick 7-1 lead in the opening set, forcing the Trojans to call for an early timeout. Coming out of the break, AU scored two straight to trim the deficit to just four, but the Lady Railsplitters answered with another 7-1 run to open a double-digit, 14-4, cushion. With the momentum favoring LMU and with the Lady Railsplitters hitting an impressive .394 during the set, the Trojans were unable to get any closer than 11 the rest of the frame.
The second set featured three early ties, with the Trojans capitalizing on three consecutive errors by the Lady Railsplitters to take a 9-6 lead and forcing LMU to call for a timeout. Lincoln Memorial answered with three straight points to even the score once again at nine apiece, but Anderson countered with a 4-1 surge and took the lead on another LMU miscue. The Trojans pushed out to their largest lead of the frame, 17-13, on a kill by Gillespie and again equaled the four-point edge at 21-17, as Irizarry notched a kill. LMU went on a 5-1 run to knot for the fifth time, at 22 apiece, but AU posted three straight points to take the set, with Pittman sandwiching a pair of kills around a service ace from freshman Tinsley Hallman to secure the win and even the match at one set apiece.
Lincoln Memorial opened up a pair of four-point leads in the third set before the Trojans reeled off four consecutive points to knot the score for the second time, at 12-12, as Pittman posted two kills and Hallman recorded a pair of service aces during the rally. But AU was unable to take the lead for the moment, as the Lady Railsplitters responded with a 4-1 run to push out to a 16-13 advantage. Gillespie answered with back-to-back kills to pull AU within one, and Pittman again sandwiched two kills, this time around a service ace from Irizarry, to even the score at 20-20. Following an LMU timeout, the Lady Railsplitters capitalized on a trio of Trojan miscues to score five of the final six points of the set.
Gillespie, Hallman and Irizarry combined for five kills and a pair of service aces to give the Trojans a 12-7 edge in the fourth set, but Lincoln Memorial posted a 7-2 surge to take a 19-14 lead. AU closed the gap to just 21-20 on Gillespie’s 17th kill of the night, and the Trojans evened the score at 23 apiece on an LMU error. Hallman and Irizarry each posted a kill in the final moments to force a fifth and deciding set.
The final frame saw six ties, with Pittman posting four kills and Gillespie adding three, but the Lady Railsplitters overcame a pair of Anderson leads and used a late 3-0 to take a lead they would not surrender, at 13-10, as LMU held off the Trojans.
Pittman hit .553 on the night and finished with 24 kills and just three errors in 38 attempts, while Gillespie added 20 kills and 18 digs for her 14th double-double of the season. Irizarry nearly recorded her first double-double of the season with 12 kills and nine digs, while junior Meghan Cautero handed out a match-high 45 assists. She also notched 11 digs for her sixth double-double of the campaign. Defensively, junior Alix Hooker recorded her second-highest dig total of the season, with 32.
Anderson will get back in action on Saturday at Carson-Newman, with first-serve slated for 2 p.m. in Jefferson City, Tenn.