CHARLESTON, S.C. – Senior outside hitter Rachael Farrell was the catalyst for The Citadel volleyball team that completed a five-set victory (25-20, 22-25, 25-22, 21-25, 15-12) over Stetson in the East Bay Deli Invitational, hosted by Charleston Southern. Farrell finished with a career-high 21 kills and posted 28 digs, fifth-most in a single match in program history.
Farrell, who finished with a .294 attack percentage, became the first Bulldog to post 20 or more kills in a match since Tatum Jestila on Sept. 21, 2010. Farrell was joined by Lauren Hurt (12 kills) and Jessica Maxwell (10 kills) on a Citadel front row that had 59 team kills. Defensively, Farrell's 28 digs were closely followed by Emily Dalton (19 digs), Mikaela Tracy (18 digs) and Amanda Rudnik (12 digs). Tracy also handed out a match-high 44 assists as The Citadel earned its first win of the season.
Stetson's tandem of Kaley Melville (25 kills, 16 digs) and Ellen Hawks (11 kills) provided a formidable attack. The combination of Melville and Hawks, alongside Kelli Carneal (nine kills) and Cailyn Prewitt (eight kills), allowed the Hatters to finish with a 63-59 edge in kills. Teammate Monique Russell anchored Stetson's back row with 32 digs, while the duo of Carneal and Weller dished out 27 and 24 assists, respectively. Stetson fell to 3-11 following the loss.
The tone for the match was set from the very beginning with five ties among the first 20 combined points of the opening set. Knotted at 10-10 following a kill by Maxwell, Erin Bucherl's service game allowed the Dogs to extend the lead to 13-10, keyed by a pair of unforced Stetson errors. Clinging to a two point lead, 16-14, a Hurt kill followed by a Prewitt error allowed The Citadel to extend the lead to four. The Hatters made one last push, drawing within a pair, before two kills down the stretch and a Tracy service ace made for the 25-20 win.
Stetson grabbed control of the second set early and did not look back. The Hatters jumped out to a 5-1 lead on a series of kills by Prewitt and Melville. After a 5-1 run with Maxwell in serve, bringing the game to a 6-6 tie, Stetson scored seven of the next 10 points to move in front 13-9. Kills by Maxwell, Farrell and Amanda Rudnik kept the Dogs within striking distance, 17-16, but a combined five kills by the front row of Carneal and Melville proved to be the difference, 25-22.
The Citadel rebounded in the third set by jumping out to a 10-2 lead, highlighted by two Farrell kills and five service points by Maxwell. Penetrating the Stetson defense with kills by Hurt and Rudnik, the Dogs maintained their lead 18-10 at the midpoint of the set. Stetson pieced together an 11-3 offensive explosion to pull even at 21, keyed by three Melville kills, before consecutive kills by Maxwell, Farrell and Rudnik gave the Cadets a set point. Two points later Maxwell completed the 25-22 victory when she drove a Tracy assist past the Hatter defense.
The hotly contested match continued in the fourth set with the two teams battling through three early ties to reach a 10-10 score. The Bulldogs took advantage of kills by Bailey Kernodle, Maxwell, Rudnik and Hurt to eventually draw game even at 16-16. With Rudnik in serve, a pair of Stetson attack errors combined with a kill by Kernodle provided a brief 19-16 lead. With the match on the line, the Hatters responded by outscoring The Citadel 9-2 over the remainder of the set to win 25-21.
The two teams battled throughout the early stages of the decisive fifth set, reaching a 6-6 tie on kill by Hurt. Dalton gave The Citadel breathing room with a service ace and an unforced Stetson error, making for a 9-6 lead. The Hatters pulled within two points on just one more occasion for the remainder of the match as kills by Maxwell, Rudnik and Farrell completed the 15-12 Citadel victory.
The Citadel returns to action on Saturday afternoon when they play Wofford at 12:30 p.m. and follow with an evening match against Charleston Southern at 7:30 p,m.
For more information on Bulldog Volleyball, go to the official website of The Citadel Athletics, www.CitadelSports.com.