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Huntington dispatched in straight sets

by Eric Andrews - eandrews@h-ponline.com

The Huntington University volleyball team wrapped up its regular season on Wednesday night by traveling to face Grace in a Crossroads League battle, but fell in three sets to the Lancers.

The loss capped the Foresters’ regular season record at 14–19, including a 6–12 mark in the Crossroads League.

Unfortunately, Huntington found itself in a big hole to start the match, trailing the hosts by as many as eight points in set one. The Foresters rallied to make things interesting, cutting the gap to one point at 18–17, but Grace held on for a 25–22 win.

The Lancers came out of the gate hot in set two, storming out to a 6–0 lead before eventually cruising to a 25–15 decision for a two-set lead in the match.

The night’s third set was different, though, featuring back-and-forth action throughout the early stages. After battling to an 8–8 stalemate, Grace put its foot down for a 9–1 run to grab a commanding 17–9 advantage. Huntington would make a late push, but the bid fell short, as the Lancers earned the sweep with a 25–20 win in set three.

“We played well the last third of each set,” said head coach Kelsey Herber in a press release. “That does not get the job done in a volleyball match or in life. … The never-quit mentality needs to be something we embrace every single point. This conference is far too good for us to think that a partial sense of urgency could take us to the top.”

The Foresters racked up 141 total attacks on the night to edge Grace’s 127, but the Lancers would ride a .220 hitting percentage to the victory while Huntington managed just a .050 hitting percentage in the loss.

Paige Eakright led the charge for the Foresters with a match-best 12 kills and added 14 digs to post a double-double.

Tya Bynum, Jennings Tacosik and Anna Lewis rounded out the notable kill totals for Huntington with six, five and five, respectively. Tacosik paced her squad with 24 assists and also tallied 12 digs to complete a double-double.

Huntington native Ariene Butler led the defensive showing for the Foresters with a team-high 17 digs.

Grace’s Jadyn Block led her side with 10 kills, while Gina Novotny piled up a match-leading 23 digs for the Lancer defense. Also of note for Grace was Huntington North graduate Alexa Hill’s 15 digs.

With their 6–12 record in conference play, Huntington enters the Crossroads League Tournament owning the seventh seed. Despite tying for the spot with Bethel, the Foresters claimed the tie-breaker having swept the Pilots this season.

Though Huntington enters its postseason matchup as underdogs, Herber has confidence her team can get the job done.

“We are shifting our focus to beating Marian on Saturday in the first round of the conference tournament,” Herber said. “We can still put an exclamation point on the end of this season.”

The Foresters will return to action on Saturday for a road match at second-seeded No. 12 Marian in the Crossroads League Tournament Quarterfinals. The match is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start time.