Lenoir-Rhyne snaps Lady Bobcats’ win streak in five-set thriller

Box score

HICKORY, N.C. --- The Lenoir-Rhyne University volleyball team rallied to defeat the Lees-McRae College women's volleyball team in a five-set thriller on Friday night in Shufford Gymnasium, tallying the final 10 points of the fifth frame to end the Lady Bobcats' 13-match winning streak.

Lenoir-Rhyne (10-11) won the match by scores of 25-14, 17-25, 22-25, 25-23, and 15-10, tallying 18 blocks and holding the Lady Bobcats (16-7) to a .129 hitting percentage. The Bears posted a .125 hitting percentage in what was a decidedly defensive match, as the teams combined for 28 blocks and 144 digs.

Megan Epperson (St. John, Ind.) turned in a double-double with 18 kills and 19 digs, and Megan Mitchell (Minden, Nev.) tallied a double-double of her own with 12 digs and a match-high 48 assists. Lauren Fox (Garland, Texas) chipped in 11 kills, while Whitney Justice (Connelly Springs, N.C.) posted nine kills and 13 digs. Taylor Clendenin (Statesville, N.C.) added seven kills and a match-high 19 digs.

Chelsea Hill (Lexington, N.C.) tallied 13 kills and 11 blocks to pace the Bears. Cayla Crawley (Bryson City, N.C.) posted 10 kills and nine digs, while Kaitlyn Burton (Mills River, N.C.) tallied a double-double with 34 assists and 17 digs. Brooke Christenbury (Mooresville, N.C.) just missed a double-double with nine kills and 11 digs for the Bears.

The Bears jumped out to an early lead in the first set, tallying the first eight points of the frame before extending the margin to 13-2 with a 5-2 spurt. After L-R pushed the margin to 16-3, Lees-McRae battled back, tallying the next four points to trim the advantage to 16-8. The Bears then closed out the 25-14 set win with a 9-6 run.

Lees-McRae responded in the second set, opening an early 7-1 lead on a solo block by Mitchell before the Bears rallied, cutting the margin to 14-11 with a 10-7 run of their own. The Lady Bobcats countered with a 5-0 spurt, stretching the lead to 19-11 on a kill by Fox before closing out the 25-17 second-set win to even the match at 1-1.

The Bears came out strong in the third set, opening an early 7-1 lead before the Lady Bobcats rallied to trim the margin to 9-7. Lenoir-Rhyne continued to dictate the flow of play, responding with a 7-1 run to open a 16-8 advantage on an LMC attack error. The Lady Bobcats would cut the margin to 20-19 with an 11-4 spurt, and later fought off three set points before L-R tallied the final marker to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

Lees-McRae battled back in the fourth set, rallying from an early deficit to even the score at 10-10 on a service ace by Taylor Stice (Franklin, Tenn.). The Lady Bobcats would battle through seemingly countless tie scores, tallying three of the set's final four points to send the match to a decisive fifth frame with a 25-23 win.

The Lady Bobcats would take control early in the fifth set, opening the frame with an 8-3 spurt that was capped by a kill from Epperson. Lenoir-Rhyne would battle back, and with LMC holding a 10-5 lead, launched a decisive 10-0 run to complete the upset with a 15-10 fifth-set win.

Lees-McRae returns to the court on Saturday when the Lady Bobcats host Lander University in a non-conference matchup. The contest is slated to begin at 2 p.m. in Williams Gymnasium.

- LMC -