The Stetson volleyball team picked up its first win of the season Saturday by defeating host Alabama State 3-1 (25-19, 17-25, 25-14, 25-15) at the ISTAP Invitational in Montgomery, Ala. Stetson fell by the same 3-1 score (22-25, 25-15, 25-17, 26-24) to Tennessee State in the nightcap and completed the season-opening tournament with a 1-3 record.
Early in the second match, senior libero Monique Russell recorded her 1000th career dig to become the 10th player in school history to reach that milestone. Russell finished with 36 digs on the day.
"It was very exciting to see Mo reach that milestone," Stetson head coach Tim Loesch said. "She really played well every match in the tournament."
Junior Kaley Melville recorded two double-doubles Saturday: an 11-kill, 10-dig performance against Alabama State and a 15-kill, 10-dig outing against Tennessee State. Fellow junior Ellen Hawks recorded 10 kills in each match. Freshman Cailyn Prewitt posted 19 kills, including 11 against Tennessee State.
STETSON 3, ALABAMA STATE 1
In the first match, Stetson jumped out to a 1-0 lead after posting a 25-19 win in the first set. The Hornets (0-3) evened the match with a 25-17 win in the second set, but the Hatters took over from there. Stetson never trailed in the third set, and used a 10-3 run to help break the game open.
In the fourth set, Alabama State led early and held a 13-11 advantage when Stetson went on a 7-0 run to grab control of the match. Hawks had two kills during the run, Melville and Kelli Carneal each added a kill, and Taylor Story added a service ace. The Hatters went on to a 25-15 win.
The Hatters hit .290 over the final two sets and finished with a .202 attack pct. for the match.
Carneal contributed nine kills, 16 assists, seven digs, and three aces to the winning effort. Prewitt added eight kills from the front row. Sophomore Taylor Johnson led the team at the net with four blocks, while Russell picked up 20 digs on defense.
"I was real pleased with the team, we did a good job of executing the things we needed to do to be successful," Loesch said. "Some players really stepped up. I was very happy with Kelli Carneal, she almost had a triple double, and Kaley Melville hit for a high percentage and passed well. Ellen Hawks also had a noteworthy performance, and Taylor Story had some nice service runs that helped us win some games."
TENNESSEE STATE 3, STETSON 1
The first-ever meeting between Stetson and Tennessee State proved to be a tightly contested match. The Hatters jumped out to 1-0 lead with a 25-22 victory in the first set. The Tigers (3-1) fought back with wins in sets two and three to gain a 2-1 advantage.
In set four, the Hatters carried the momentum from an early 7-2 lead for most of the set, but a late rally by TSU put the Tigers ahead 22-20. The Hatters then scored four of the next five points and were on the doorstep of forcing a decisive game five. But Tennessee State benefitted from three consecutive kills to close out the victory.
Melville (16 kills), Prewitt (11 kills), and Hawks (10 kills) led the Hatters offensively. Prewitt also assisted on five of the Hatters' season-high eight blocks. Carneal (17 assists, 10 digs) joined Melville with a double-double performance of her own, freshman Kayla Weller added 14 assists, and Russell tallied 16 digs.
"In the nightcap, we started off strong, had a little letdown, but we battled back," Loesch said. "Kaley Melville and Cailyn Prewitt had good games passing and attacking. The girls fought hard and almost forced it to a fifth set. It was a long weekend, but I am glad we got a win today."
Hawks was selected to the ISTAP all-tournament team.
The Hatters return home next weekend to host the Stetson Clarion Classic on Aug. 31-Sept. 1 at the Edmunds Center. Stetson will face Central Arkansas and Florida Atlantic on Friday, and Wofford and Hampton on Saturday.