ELON, N.C. — Senior Taylor Lillard (Victorville, Calif.) put down a match-high 14 kills and the Runnin' Bulldogs posted 40 smashes and hit .364 as a team en route to a 57-minute straight set sweep of Delaware State on Friday afternoon at the Elon Phoenix Classic.
"I am very pleased with our effort tonight," said head coach Leo Sayles. "Kacy O'Connor and Emma Milstead did an outstanding job from the serving line and played solid defensively. Taylor Lillard was in control outside. Our setters kept DSU on their toes with great distribution. Great way for us to start our weekend."
Gardner-Webb (5-2) won the match by scores of 25-13, 25-10 and 25-15, amassing 40 kills and hitting .364 as a team - including a sensational .560 clip in the second set. The Runnin' Bulldogs held Delaware State (0-7) to 18 kills and 24 digs on the afternoon while posting 31 digs and a season-high 13 service aces.
Lillard led all hitters with 14 kills on 31 swings, as Keira Moore (Spartanburg, S.C.) and Kaelyn Dyson (Holly Springs, N.C.) added seven and six smashes, respectively. Tinsley Fain (Boiling Springs, S.C.) dished out 21 assists, while Emma Milstead (Knoxville, Tenn.) tallied match-highs of 14 digs and five aces. Amanda Sahm (Marion, Iowa) and Kacy O'Connor (Southport, N.C.) recorded four and three aces, respectively.
The Runnin' Bulldogs stormed out of the gate in the first set, kicking off the frame with a 14-2 surge before Delaware State trimmed the margin to 17-10 on a GWU miscue. Gardner-Webb would answer with an 8-3 spurt, claiming a 1-0 lead in the match following an ace from Milstead.
The second set followed a similar script to the first, with Gardner-Webb taking an early 13-4 advantage on an emphatic smash from Nicole Celarek (Bensenville, Ill.). The Runnin' Bulldogs would make quick work of the frame from there, converting 16-of-25 swings for kills while committing just two errors en route to a 25-10 second-set win.
Delaware State bounced back early in the third with a 5-1 spurt to open the set, before Gardner-Webb stormed back with a 22-6 surge to open a 23-11 lead with a Lillard kill. The Runnin' Bulldogs capped the set and the match from there, answering a 3-1 Delaware State spurt with a Celarek smash to claim their fifth win of the season.
Gardner-Webb will finish the weekend at the Elon Phoenix Classic on Saturday, taking on Norfolk State at 2:00 pm before squaring off against host Elon at 7:00 pm.