ANDERSON, SC – Top-seeded Lenoir-Rhyne University used a strong and accurate hitting attack to claim a 25-20, 25-13, 25-16 win over eighth-seeded Francis Marion University, Thursday afternoon (Dec. 2) in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Volleyball Tournament.

Francis Marion ends its fairy-tale season with a 21-11 record, equaling the most wins in 13 seasons.  The squad won the Conference Carolinas East Division title and the conference tournament in its first year as a member, while head coach Lauren Baufield-Edwards gave birth to her second child days before the conference tournament began. This was the Patriots’ fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Junior Gracie Davis led FMU with 10 kills and a pair of blocks, while sophomore setter Kaylee Gillespie dished out 26 assists and dug up six balls.

Senior 6-2 middle blocker Iyanla Thigpen added eight kills, while Kayla Arthur and Lily Walton chipped in five kills apiece.  Freshman libero Zoie Larkins dug up a team-high 11 balls.

Taylor Prall led LRU (23-7) with 13 kills and 17 digs.  The Bears, who hit .398 as a team in the match, advance to Friday’s semifinal round.

Aided by a uniform violation on the Bears, Francis Marion had upset on its mind as the Patriots opened the match with a 3-0 lead.  The first serve by Gillespie was an ace and Arthur followed with a kill.

The FMU advantage would later be 6-3.  After LRU rallied to take the lead, Thigpen knotted the score at 9-9 with a kill.  The score was later deadlocked at 12, 13, and 14 before the Bears took the lead.  Thigpen brought Francis Marion to within 20-18 with a kill, but Lenoir-Rhyne ended the set with a 5-2 spurt.

A Davis kill to open set No.2 gave FMU a 1-0 edge, but LRU responded with the next five points.  The margin would grow to 10-3 and then 19-10 before the Bears finished off the 25-13 victory.

An LRU error and a Davis kill staked Francis Marion to a 2-0 advantage to open the third set.  A service ace by graduate student Naina Ivanova lifted the Patriots to a 6-3 lead.  A kill by Walton kept the Patriot lead at 8-6, but the Bears ran off three straight points to go up 9-8.  Davis answered with a kill to tie the score at 9-9, before Lenoir-Rhyne scored two straight points to take the lead for good.

The margin would grow to 17-12, but Francis Marion responded with a 4-1 run to get within 18-16.  The Bears would then score the match’s final seven points.

Lenoir-Rhyne def. Francis Marion Univ. 25-20,25-13,25-16

Francis Marion Univ. (21-11) (Kills-aces-blocks) – Gracie Davis

10-0-2; Iyanla Thigpen 8-0-1; Lily Walton 5-0-3; Kayla Arthur 5-0-2;

Lexi Albright 3-0-0; Alyssa Hansen 1-0-1; Naina Ivanova 0-1-0; Kaylee

Gillespie 0-1-0; Zoie Larkins 0-1-0; Totals 32-3-5.0. (Assists) –

Kaylee Gillespie 26. (Dig leaders) – Zoie Larkins 11; Naina Ivanova 8

Lenoir-Rhyne (23-7) (Kills-aces-blocks) – Taylor Prall 13-0-0; Colette

Romp 11-0-1; Alannah Thomas 9-0-1; Braelyn Faust 4-2-0; Emma Clark

4-0-4; Mackenzie Hulsey 2-2-3; Ashley Hawkins 1-2-0; Totals 44-6-7.0.

(Assists) – Mackenzie Hulsey 36. (Dig leaders) – Taylor Prall 17;

Rachel Bewick 13

Site: Anderson, S.C. (Abney Center)

Date: Dec 02, 2021   Attend: 133   Time: 1:18   

Administrative red card on LR coach- libero jersey

Courtesy – FMU Athletics