MARS HILL, N.C. — Alexus Horton and Samantha Parrish each posted 17 kills for the Newberry Wolves, but the Mars Hill Lions won a thrilling five-set match (25-27, 25-21, 25-18, 13-25, 13-15) in Stanford Arena on Tuesday night.
Newberry falls to 16-9 overall and 10-8 in the South Atlantic Conference and sees a six-match winning streak end. This was also the Wolves’ first five-set loss in conference play. Mars Hill is now 14-8 overall and 12-6 in league play. The Wolves travel to Tusculum on Friday for the final road match of the season.
Horton hit .500 in the match with 17 kills and four blocks, while Parrish hit .308 with 17 kills, 20 digs and two blocks.
Elayni Stokes picked up an impressive 31 digs. Chelsea Mayor passed out 34 assists and completed a double-double with 10 digs, while Rachel Moran handed out 18 assists. Lisa Ross had 11 digs.
An extremely tight first set saw the Wolves and Lions battle down to the wire. There were 16 ties and five lead changes in the set and neither team ever led by more than three points in the set. Newberry fought off a pair of set points before two straight kills by MHU gave the hosts the set. Horton hit a sizzling .875 in the set, putting down seven kills on eight attempts without an error, while Stokes had nine digs. Newberry hit .227 with six errors and Mars Hill hit .277 with five errors.
The Wolves got out to a four-point lead in the second set at 12-8 on a kill by Holly Brisson, but the Lions clawed back to tie it at 14-all. From a 17-all tie, the Wolves went on a five-point run. Mars Hill avoided set point three times, but Brisson put away a kill out of a timeout to end the set at 25-21 and tie up the match. Brisson’s five kills and two blocks led the Wolves, who hit .200 in the set while holding MHU to a .176 rate. Ross had a service ace in the set.
Newberry took the lead with a 25-18 win in the third set. A kill by Jessica King gave the scarlet and gray a 16-12 lead, but the Lions fought back to narrow the margin to one point at 16-15. Newberry scored the next three points and would cruise to the win, with Horton earning three kills in the final five points. Newberry hit .364 in the set with 14 kills and only two errors in the set, with Parrish’s four errorless kills leading the team in that set. MHU’s Marissa Wixson had seven kills without an error in the set, but the rest of the Lions hit .000 in the set.
The Wolves saw their fortunes turn for the worst in the fourth set as a close frame ran away from them. After trailing only 14-12, the Wolves suffered a 10-0 run which saw the home team take an insurmountable 24-12 lead and hold on to force a fifth set. Newberry hit .000 in the set and saw MHU’s Wixson earn six errorless kills.
In the deciding set, the Lions went on a three-point run to go up 6-3, but Newberry fought back to get within arm’s reach at 9-8. Mars Hill then surged out to a 14-10 lead before Newberry fought off three match points before Wixson’s 24th kill of the night gave the hosts the victory. Parrish had three kills in the final set, but the Wolves hit only .192 compared to MHU’s .312.