Clendenin powers Lady Bobcats to 3-1 win over Crusaders

Box score

BELMONT, N.C. --- Taylor Clendenin (Statesville, N.C.) recorded a match-high 17 kills to pace a trio of Lady Bobcats with 10 or more kills, as the Lees-McRae College women's volleyball team defeated Belmont Abbey College in a four-set Conference Carolinas match on Wednesday night.

Lees-McRae (9-6, 7-0 CC) stretched its winning streak to six matches, defeating the Crusaders (11-5, 4-2 CC) by scores of 25-15, 25-16, 24-26, and 25-19 to stay atop the conference standings with a sterling 7-0 mark against league opponents. The Lady Bobcats posted a .348 (61-15-132) hitting percentage, while holding the Crusaders to a .111 (38-24-126) clip on the attack.

Clendenin recorded her 10th straight match with at least seven kills, tallying 17 kills and a .438 hitting percentage. Conference Carolinas Player of the Week Whitney Justice (Connelly Springs, N.C.) posted 15 kills and a .344 clip on the attack, while Megan Epperson (St. John, Ind.) notched 11 kills of her own. Megan Mitchell (Minden, Nev.) tallied 51 assists and three blocks, while Dana Oliver (Davie, Fla.) recorded a match-high 27 digs. Taylor Stice (Franklin, Tenn.) also added eight kills for the Lady Bobcats.

Lydia Schellenberg (Jacksonville, Fla.) paced the Crusaders with 14 kills and a .370 hitting percentage, while Kay Schellenberg (Jacksonville, Fla.) added 26 assists. Remick Tiller (Palm City, Fla.) led Belmont Abbey with 10 digs, while Bria James (Statesville, N.C.) and Kay Schellenberg each tallied nine digs.

Lees-McRae jumped out to an early 8-3 lead in the first set, extending the advantage to 12-7 before Belmont Abbey closed the gap to 14-10. The Lady Bobcats responded, closing out the 25-15 first-set win with an 11-5 run that was capped by a Mitchell service ace.

Neither team could gain a significant advantage early in the second set, until Lees-McRae went on a quick 4-1 spurt to take a 12-8 lead on a block by Epperson. The Lady Bobcats would not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the frame, eventually launching a 10-3 run to close out the set after the Crusaders cut the margin to 15-13 midway through the stanza.

Belmont Abbey refused to give in, opening an early 10-5 advantage in the third set before stretching the margin to 19-12 with a 9-7 run. Lees-McRae responded with an 8-2 surge, cutting the margin to 21-20 on a kill by Clendenin before the Crusaders went on a 3-0 spurt to push the lead to 24-20. The Lady Bobcats would rally once again, going on a 4-0 run while facing set point to even the score at 24-24 before Belmont Abbey scored the next two points to cut the LMC lead to 2-1 in the match.

The Crusaders started the fourth set in much the same way as the third, opening an early 10-6 lead before Lees-McRae stormed back with a 17-6 run to take a 23-16 advantage on a kill by Justice. Lees-McRae then closed out the set and the match with kills by Justice and Clendenin to maintain its perfect conference record.

Lees-McRae returns to the court on Friday night when the Lady Bobcats host Mount Olive College in a conference tilt. The match is slated for 7 p.m. in Williams Gymnasium following LMC's Hall of Fame dinner.

- LMC -