BOILING SPRINGS – Gardner-Webb welcomed nearly 700 local elementary students to Paul Porter Arena for Friday's Education Day match, but fell in three sets to Big South rival Presbyterian (18-25, 23-25, 21-25).
The Blue Hose (3-14, 1-2 Big South) snapped a 14-match losing streak in the process, getting off to a quick start by hitting .359 in the opening set.
Gardner-Webb (10-7, 1-2 Big South) recovered and jumped out to a 12-5 lead in the second set on Taylor Lillard's finish off an Amanda Sahm assist. The Blue Hose rallied quickly, running off seven straight to tie – and eventually took a 16-15 lead on an attack error by GWU.
The back-and-forth second set continued, with Lillard putting down another pass from Tinsley Fain for a 22-21 lead. Presbyterian scored three straight to go up 24-22 and ended the set on a kill by Sierra Davis.
The Blue Hose hit a strong .304 in that set.
Gardner-Webb battled still, building a 10-7 lead in the third set behind strong early attacks from Lillard and Hannah Driscoll. The Blue Hose hung around, however, and took the lead for good at 19-18 off an attack error by the Runnin' Bulldogs.
A run of four consecutive points forced Gardner-Webb to call at timeout down 21-18 and the Blue Hose finished off the match with a kill from Davis moments later.
Presbyterian hit .265 for the match and were led by Davis (14 kills), Martina Shamley (11 kills), Samantha Del Toro (10 kills) and Erin Eulitz (10 kills, 14 digs). Sara Rogers set the table nicely with 41 assists and Register had 27 digs.
Gardner-Webb was paced by Lillard (11 kills, 13 digs), but the Runnin' Bulldogs hit just .133 for the match. Sahm led GWU with 24 assists, Fain added 11 helpers and Emma Milsted registered 19 digs. GWU had 5.0 team blocks in the match, with Kiera Moore leading the way with two solo blocks and a pair of block assists.
Gardner-Webb will wrap up its brief home stand on Tuesday (Oct. 4) when it hosts UNC Asheville at 7:00 pm.