Macon, Ga. - The Stetson volleyball team staved off a three-set sweep Saturday afternoon at longtime Atlantic Sun Conference rival Mercer with a 26-24 win in Set 3 but that proved to be the end of the line in a 25-13, 25-20, 24-26, 25-13 loss to the Bears at the University Center. The Hatters dropped to 4-12 overall and 0-5 in the A-Sun while Mercer improved to 6-14 (1-5 A-Sun). Freshman defensive specialist Savannah Byl (Bradenton, Fla.) recorded a career-high 19 digs for Stetson.
Mercer had a decided edge in most team statistical categories, out-hitting the Hatters .216 to .086, out-digging them 85-67, out-blocking them 12-9 and taking advantage of 11 Stetson service errors while making just three themselves. Stetson led 3-2 in service aces.
Two close sets in the middle were sandwiched between identical 25-13 dominations for Mercer. Hard-hitting offense by the Bears (.395 hitting percentage, 17 kills) did the trick in the first set while the Hatters may have been their own worst enemy in Set 4 (nine errors, -.026 hitting percentage). Stetson showed some fight late in the third set by overcoming a 24-23 match point deficit, using block assists by junior setter Alisha Hoffman (Leesburg, Fla.) and sophomore middle blocker Ellen Hawks (Austin, Texas) as well as a clinching kill from senior outside hitter Kaylee Ream (Venice, Fla.) to extend the match.
Ream finished with 11 kills and nine digs, just one dig shy of a double-double, adding three blocks to that line. Sophomore outside hitter Kaley Melville (New Germany, Minn.) had 10 kills and eight digs while Hawks hit .412 with seven errorless kills and three blocks of her own. Also coming up with seven kills was freshman outside hitter Taylor Story (Plano, Texas) to go along with five digs and a team-high five blocks.
Hoffman handed out a career-high 19 assists with seven digs while freshman setter Erika White (Jacksonville, Ill.) collected 13 assists and six digs of her own. Byl (19 digs) and junior libero Monique Russell (Phoenix, Ariz.) (10 digs) made it to double figures on defense for the Hatters.
Jennifer Katona was a lethal weapon all afternoon for Mercer, smashing 16 kills without an error on 21 swings, hitting an astounding .762 and recording five blocks. Charlayna Braxton (11 kills, seven blocks) and Anna Coursey (seven kills, seven blocks) helped pace the Bears at the net with Madeline Dolny (39 assists, nine digs, four kills), Charlotte Harris (25 digs), Emily Rochefort (16 digs), Amiee Frutchey (11 digs) and Jamie Duffy (11 digs) providing support.
The Hatters step out of conference play to host Savannah State at 5:00 pm Tuesday, October 11 at the Edmunds Center. Hatter Vision and Live Stats will be available at GoHatters.com.
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