Volleyball climbs to 27–3 before UAA championship

Junior outside hitter Lauren Mueller sets up a spike for a teammate. (credit: Courtesy of CMU Athletics) Junior outside hitter Lauren Mueller sets up a spike for a teammate. (credit: Courtesy of CMU Athletics)

The volleyball team hosted Denison University on Friday, Oct. 20 as part of its mini invitational. The sixth-ranked Tartans improved to 23–1 with a 3–1 win against the Big Red.

Senior outside hitter Heather Holton led the team with 14 kills and a hitting percentag of .414. Senior middle blocker Eliza Donohue had 11 kills, and junior outside hitter Lauren Mueller had 10. Sophomore setter Maia So-Holloway had 20 assists and 15 digs while senior setter Amanda Thiele had 18 assists. Sophomore outside hitter and defensive specialist Kayla Yew led with 23 digs. Senior defensive specialist and libero Hannah Wooten added 15 digs.

Donohue put the Tartans ahead 8–4 in with back-to-back kills and led the team in the first set with five kills. Senior outside hitter Shalani Stockton and Holton also put down back-to-back kills in the set which the Tartans won 25–19.

The Tartans led 12–9 in the second set after a service ace by Donohue which prompted a timeout by the Big Red. Out of the timeout, the Big Red used a 10–3 run to take a 19–15 lead causing the Tartans to take their own timeout. The Tartans returned to the court and ran off seven straight points to retake the lead, one they didn’t relinquish again, taking the set, 25–23.

The Big Red opened the third set with a 7–3 advantage before Holton put down a cross-court kill to slow the run. Mueller later put down a kill that cut the deficit to one, 8–7, but the Big Red pushed their advantage to 11–7 and later to 20–10, before winning 25–20.

The fourth set began with a 7–0 blitz by the Tartans which included two service aces by So-Holloway and two kills by Mueller. Two service aces by Yew gave the Tartans a 11–3 advantage which they ran to 14–4 via two kills by Holton and a Denison attack error. The Tartans extended the lead to 18–10 on kills by Mueller and junior right side hitter Sarah Jurgens before three attack errors by the Big Red gave the home team a 21–10 edge. The final four points for the Tartans came via a kill, as they went on for the 25–20 set win.

The Tartans closed the home weekend with two more victories on Saturday, Oct. 21. The Tartans opened the day with a 3–0 win against Cabrini College and finished the afternoon with a 3–0 win against Haverford College.

Against Cabrini, Donohue led the offense with 12 kills and a hitting percentage of .357, while Hurgens knocked down 10 and hit .304. Thiele had 17 assists, and So–Holloway had 16. Donohue had five block assists and sophomore Yew had 20 digs, while Mueller had 17 digs.
The Tartans opened with a 25–22 first-set win with Jurgens collecting six kills and Donohue four. In the second set, with the score tied at 22–all, first-year outside hitter Diana Balta entered and served the final three points which came off kills by Holton and Donohue and an attack error by the Cavaliers for the 25–22 win.

The third set was back-and-forth until the Tartans led 24–20. The Cavaliers put down three straight kills before Donohue closed the match with a kill of her own and the 25–23 victory.

The Tartans used blocking power at the net and strong hitting to overpower Haverford with set wins of 25–21, 25–16, and 25–21.

Jurgens registered a career-best 18 kills against the Fords with 11 coming in the deciding third set. She also hit .333 for the match. Donohue hit .444 with ten kills while sophomore middle blocker and outside hitter Sahara Aqui hit .333 with eight kills. So-Holloway fed the hitters with 31 assists and dug up 14 attacks. Yew led the back line with 22 digs while Mueller also tallied 14 digs. At the net, Aqui picked up five block assists while Thiele had four block assists to go with 11 assists.

The Tartans hosted the Eagles of Juniata College on Tuesday and dropped a five-set match. The loss moved the Tartans record to 25–2 while Juniata went to 20–7.

After dropping the first-set 25–18, Carnegie Mellon took the second 25–21 and then battled for a 31–29 win in set three to take a 2–1 edge. The Eagles did not go away, as they won the fourth–set 25–21 before outlasting the Cardinal and Gray 15–10 in the fifth set.

Four Tartans recorded double digit kills with Mueller leading the way with 16. Holton put away 14 with Donohue and Aqui recording 11 and 10, respectively. Aqui hit .438 to lead all attackers.

So-Holloway handed out 31 assists and had 22 digs while Thiele recorded 19 assists.

Yew led with 33 digs followed by So-Holloway and Mueller with 18. At the net, the Tartans had three players record four block assists each in Aqui, Donohue, and Holton.

Following the Eastern University Quad in which the Tartans went 2–1 against their tournament competition, the Tartans moved to 27–3 for the season. The Tartans will next play in the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship tournament at Emory University on Nov. 3. The Tartans will open the tournament as the number one seed and face Brandeis University at 12 p.m.