Stetson volleyball senior libero Monique Russell set the school career digs record on Saturday afternoon, but ETSU rallied for a 3-2 victory (19-25, 17-25, 25-16, 25-15, 15-11) in an Atlantic Sun Conference match at the Edmunds Center.
The Hatters (3-18, 0-5 A-Sun) won the first two sets, but the Bucs (11-7, 2-2 A-Sun) came back to win the final three frames, handing the Hatters their fifth five-set loss of the season.
“I thought we had a really great team effort today,” Stetson head coach Tim Loesch said. “The girls did a great job of following the game plan. We were attacking well, we were blocking well, we were playing good defense behind the block. But ETSU made some adjustments during the break and started blocking us better. We actually played pretty well in the last set, they just played a little bit better.”
Stetson’s offense was clicking in set one as the Hatters posted a .360 attack percentage. The defense stepped up in set two with five blocks and 17 digs. Meredith Hardy helped get ETSU back in the game as she recorded 10 of her 12 blocks in sets three and four.
In the fifth set, Stetson trailed 8-6 at the changeover and 11-7 moments later. But a pair of kills by Kaley Melville, a kill by Cailyn Prewitt, and a block assist by Prewitt and Ellen Hawks helped close the gap to 12-11. The Bucs scored the final three points however to close out the victory.
“It was an exciting game,” Loesch said. “I was disappointed we came up short but it is hats off to ETSU. They didn’t give up and kept battling, and so did our girls. It came down to the last few points, and they just came out on top.”
Russell finished the day with 19 digs, breaking the record previously held by Melissa Roy (1994-97) midway through the fourth set. Her career total now stands at 1291.
“I’m glad that Monique broke the record in a game where she played very well against a good hitting team like ETSU,” Loesch said. “I know it would have meant a lot more to her if we would have won the match, but she certainly deserves to be commended for her achievement.”
Melville led the Hatters with 14 kills and added 12 digs for her eighth double-double of the season. Carneal also posted her eighth double-double with 13 kills and 23 assists, and she picked up nine digs as well. Hawks tied her career-high with nine blocks.
“I thought Kelli Carneal did a really nice job of attacking, setting, and almost had a triple-double for us,” Loesch said. “Kaley Melville had another excellent game passing, blocking, receiving serves, and attacking. Ellen Hawks had a real big match blocking, she almost had 10 blocks for us. We moved Cailyn Prewitt from the left side to the right side and she did a great job blocking and attacking.”
Prewitt finished with nine kills and a career-high six blocks. Kalyla Weller dished out 17 assists. Alexa Drost had 12 digs in her first career start, and Taylor Story served three aces. The Hatters tied a season-high with 12.5 blocks.
“Our energy level was a lot higher tonight right from the beginning,” Loesch said. “The girls just decided they were going to play their hearts out and they did. I’m proud of them for bouncing back after a tough loss yesterday where we didn’t have energy. They made a concerted effort on the court and on the bench to show some excitement, and I think that is contagious.”