GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Marissa Mitter led all players with 19 kills to lead Anderson to a 3-0 victory over Tusculum in South Atlantic Conference volleyball action Friday night at Pioneer Arena. Set scores were 25-20, 25-19 and 25-16.
With the win, the Trojans (25-3, 18-1 SAC) clinched no worse than a share of the SAC regular-season championship for the first time in school history. Anderson, which earned its 20th consecutive victory with the win over Tusculum, can earn the outright league title Saturday afternoon with a victory at Mars Hill.
Cassie Born paced the Pioneers (15-15, 10-10 SAC) with seven kills, but a team hitting percentage of .032 was no match for the Trojans' team hitting mark of .260 which spoiled Tusculum's Senior Night festivities. Despite the loss, Tusculum could still earn fourth place and host a SAC Championship tournament quarterfinal match on Tuesday, if Carson-Newman loses at home to Queens on Saturday.
Mitter also had 10 digs to go with her 19 kills, while Jayln Knight had eight kills and 13 digs for the Trojans. Serena Jackson finished with nine kills, with 13 digs by Emily Conard and 44 assists by Emily Conlin.
For the Pioneers, Kaily Weiss had five kills and three blocks, with 13 digs apiece by Shannon Murphy and Melissa Mazur. Murphy also had 17 assists, while Alyssa Rojas also reached double figures in digs with 11 as the Pioneers had a six-match home winning streak come to an end.
Tusculum took the early momentum in the match, winning the first four points on a kill from Mariah Lewis, an ace by Murphy and back-to-back errors from Mitter. Anderson took the lead with four straight points at 9-7, but four consecutive hitting errors by the Trojans left the Pioneers on top 16-13. Anderson fought back to tie the score at 17-17 on a kill by Knight, then scored seven of the final nine points with four straight kills from Mitter to close the set. Mitter had nine kills in 17 attacks to lead all players, while the Pioneers were led by two kills each from Sabrina Schleuger and Weiss along with six digs from Murphy.
In the second set, the Trojans built an 8-4 lead, but the Pioneers ran off four straight points to gain the lead at 12-10. The teams were tied at 12-12 and 13-13, but Anderson went on to take advantage of three consecutive Tusculum errors to build their lead to 17-14. The Pioneers moved to within 20-18 on a kill by Born, but Mitter accounted for three of the Trojans' final five points to wrap up the set. The Trojans hit .275 as a team in the set, with Mitter and Kathryn Hughes registering five kills apiece. Born paced the Pioneers in set two with five kills.
The third set saw the Pioneers go out to a 6-3 lead following a block from Murphy and Laryssa Welch, but a 7-0 run on the serve of Conard pushed the Trojans ahead for good at 12-7. Tusculum inched back within 12-11, but two kills from Jackson and one from Mitter gave Anderson a 15-11 lead and Tusculum would get no closer. Conard wrapped up the win with an ace on match point.
Tusculum finished with five team blocks in the match, including four from Lewis and three by Weiss. Schleuger was the only player on either team with multiple aces (two) and also had eight digs for the Pioneers.
The Pioneers will await Saturday's results to determine who and where they will play in the quarterfinal round of the SAC Championship tournament. The semifinals will be played Friday on the campus of Carson-Newman, with the championship match on Saturday at Holt Fieldhouse.