Lady Bobcats sweep pair at Colorado Springs Tournament

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. --- Megan Epperson (St. John, Ind.) and Taylor Clendenin (Statesville, N.C.) each recorded a pair of double-doubles to lead the Lees-McRae women's volleyball team to a 2-0 opening day at the Colorado Springs Tournament, being hosted by the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.

Lees-McRae (3-4) defeated Grand Canyon (1-5) in a five-set thriller to begin the day, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to win the match by scores of 20-25, 21-25, 25-17, 26-24, and 15-13. The Lady Bobcats then capped the afternoon in style, sweeping Winona State (3-2) by scores of 26-24, 25-21, and 25-22 as LMC won its last six sets of the day.

Whitney Justice (Connelly Springs, N.C.) paced the Lady Bobcats with 27 kills, registering a .388 attack percentage on the day as Epperson and Clendenin joined the All-American with 26 and 20 kills, respectively. Lauren Fox (Enka, N.C.) chipped in 18 kills of her own while Megan Mitchell (Minden, Nev.) paced Lees-McRae with 88 assists, including a season-high 51 helpers against Grand Canyon.

Epperson posted matches of 12 and 15 digs, respectively, while Clendenin chipped in a pair of 11-dig performances to join Epperson with a pair of double-doubles. Dana Oliver (Davie, Fla.) turned in a season-high 27 digs against Grand Canyon as the libero, and followed that with 10 against Winona State.

Match One: Lees-McRae 3, Grand Canyon 2 (20-25, 21-25, 25-17, 26-24, 15-13) - Box Score

Lees-McRae started off strong in the first set, opening an early 9-3 lead before Grand Canyon launched a 13-4 run to take a 16-13 advantage. The Antelopes then closed out the set with a 9-7 spurt to take an early 1-0 lead.

Grand Canyon then pushed Lees-McRae to the brink in the second set, winning the frame by a 25-21 score to take a 2-0 lead in the match after rallying from an early 8-3 deficit. The Lady Bobcats would not back down, defeating the Antelopes 25-17 in the third set after closing out the frame with a 14-7 run.

Lees-McRae would then even the match at 2-2 with a 26-24 win in the fourth set, rallying from an early 10-6 deficit to take the frame on a clutch service ace by Mitchell. The Lady Bobcats completed the comeback in the fifth set, edging the Antelopes by a score of 15-13 after closing out the frame with a 8-6 spurt.

Match Two: Lees-McRae 3, Winona State 0 (26-24, 25-21, 25-22) - Box Score

Lees-McRae continued its strong play against Winona State, sweeping the Warriors in three sets. The Lady Bobcats opened the first set with a 10-3 run before Winona State rallied with a 12-8 spurt of its own to cut the margin to 18-15. The Lady Bobcats would respond with a 6-4 spurt of their own, pushing the Warriors to the brink before Winona State fought off five set points to even the score at 24-24. Justice and Epperson would not be intimidated, as each recorded a kill to close out the 26-24 first-set win.

The Lady Bobcats continued to dictate the flow of the match in the second set, going on a 7-3 spurt with the score tied 10-10 to take a 17-13 advantage on a kill by Justice. Mitchell would spark another run with a kill of her own, propelling Lees-McRae to the 25-21 second-set win to give the Lady Bobcats a commanding 2-0 lead in the match. Winona State would continue to battle in the third set, closing the gap to 16-14 in favor of Lees-McRae after the Lady Bobcats opened the frame with a 10-4 run. Lees-McRae would not be denied, closing out the sweep with a 25-22 third-set win by edging the Warriors 9-8 down the stretch.

Lees-McRae returns to the court on Saturday, squaring off against Fort Lewis and host UC Colorado Springs on the final day of the Colorado Springs Tournament. The matches are set for 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively, at Gallogly Center.

- LMC -