Johnson City, Tenn. (Nov. 14, 2003) -
It was "Senior Night" for the East Tennessee State volleyball program at Brooks Gym on Saturday, but the biggest performance of the night came from an underclassman in the Buccaneer's 30-26, 30-16, 30-24 victory over Elon. ETSU sophomore Sara Scandiffio
(Purcellville, Va.) notched a match-high 17 kills and .536 attack percentage, both career bests for the 6-foot-0 right side hitter.
"Sara proved once again just how big of an asset she is to this team," said first-year head coach Lindsey Devine
. "She was a wall out there and was instrumental in some of our key points."
With the victory, ETSU (9-21, 7-11 SoCon) clinched a spot in the Southern Conference tournament, which begins next weekend in Chattanooga. Meanwhile, Elon completes its first season of competition in the SoCon with a respectable 7-11 mark in league play and 15-16 record overall.
Elon started out strong and led game one by a score of 8-1. However, the Buccaneers battled back to tie the score at 13-13, before escaping with the 30-26 victory. ETSU then jumped out to an early lead in game two, but the Phoenix were able to keep it close for the duration. An attack error on Elon's Mary Hart eventually gave the Bucs a 2-0 lead going into intermission.
ETSU took control of game three from the beginning but was victory was stalled at 29-20, while the Phoenix rattled off four consecutive points. The Buccaneers finally sealed the match on a thunderous kill by senior Kate Steidle
(Waynesboro, Va.), who was honored before the match, along with fellow senior Lissa Allen (Palm Bay, Fla.).
"It was nice to highlight our two seniors who have continued to lead this team this year," said Devine. "Their energy was definitely a factor into getting our players mentally focused."
Steidle recorded a double-double with 13 kills and 10 digs, as did freshman Kristi Robinson
(Knoxville, Tenn.), who dished out 41 assists and had a match-high 16 digs. Freshman Kelsey Sherich
(Ogallala, Neb.) hit .438 for the match in adding 10 kills on 16 attempts. One night after setting the school record for attack percentage (.727 vs. UNC Greensboro), Allen was silenced by being held to only five kills, but did tally three blocks.
Three players reached double digits in kills for the Phoenix led by Emily Downing's 12 putaways. Juliena Gigon and Emily Hayes finished with 10 kills each. Hart totaled 37 assists for the evening, including the team's lone service ace. Meanwhile, M.K. Spear and Maria LaBrutto registered 11 and 10 digs, respectively.
ETSU will represent the SoCon's North Division as the number four seed this Friday at 3 p.m. The Bucs will play the top-seeded team in the South, which will either be College of Charleston or Georgia Southern depending on Sunday's results. Charleston defeated ETSU in the tournament opener last season by a score of 3-0. The Buccaneers have dropped two matches to the Georgia Southern this season, and lost their only contest to the Cougars.
"Things are coming together, and everything is flowing for us right now," said Devine. "It's every coaches dream to go to the tournament and peak at the right time -- I just want these girls to know that they are a talented, competitive team and the hard work and dedication they have put forth all season is paying off."
For a complete schedule of this weekend's matches, log on to www.SoConSports.com.