Atlanta, Ga. – The No. 20 Transylvania volleyball team crossed into a new frontier on Friday evening, capturing its first NCAA Tournament victory in program history with a four-set win against the Birmingham-Southern College Tigers in the first round of the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship at P. E. Woodruff Center on the campus of Emory University.
Competing as the Atlanta Regional No. 5 seed, the Pioneers overcame a first-set loss to win the final three sets over the No. 4 seed Tigers, winning 23-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-15 to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Pioneers will play regional No. 1 seed and host team, Emory University on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. after Emory defeated No. 8 seed Notre Dame of Maryland University in straight sets.
Taryn Glass led a second-set turnaround with a succession of kills early in the second set to turn momentum to the Pioneers, who powered up at the net against the Tigers and shut down their nationally-acclaimed block attack. Glass had seven of her 15 kills in the pivotal second set as the Pioneers clinched momentum for good and gradually wore down the Tigers in a tournament match reminiscent of their earlier meeting in the regular season which the Pioneers also won in four after losing the first set by two points.
Hannah Talkers matched her season-high with 52 assists and added 15 digs, three blocks, and two kills in the historic win. Jordan Horne rang up another 22 kills against the Tigers after recording her career-high in kills with 26 in the previous 2019 meeting between the two teams.
Transylvania improved to 28-4 overall, extending its program-record winning streak to 14 matches. Birmingham-Southern's season came to an end with a 24-7 overall record.
Converging for the second time this season after the Pioneers earned a four-set win in Colorado Springs, Colorado on September 13, the Pioneers waged a battle against the Tigers and their vaunted team blocking game, which ranked second nationally in blocks per set. Birmingham-Southern's pattern of rejections was strong off the opening serve as the Tigers built a 7-5 lead.
The Pioneers battled back to grow an 11-7 lead as Glass and Horne led the response. Ellie Stigger got into the mix with back-to-back kills for a 14-11 Transy advantage; the junior finished the night with 10 kills and three blocks.
Glass's fifth kill of the night pushed the Pioneers ahead, 21-18 before the Tigers roared back with five straight points to grab a 23-21 upper hand. Horne rifled a kill and the Tigers failed to return the ball on the next rally, leading to a 23-23 deadlock. But the Tigers found consecutive finishes to steal away the first game 25-23, mirroring a 26-24 opening-set victory in the regular-season meeting between B-SC and Transy.
Like the first meeting, the Pioneers grew stronger as the match grew longer and the momentum was seized by Transylvania for good midway through the second set. Trailing 4-2 early in the second set, the Pioneers used kills from Glass and Horne and a myriad of Tiger errors to take a 7-6 lead.
The Tigers went back on top with a 15-12 advantage but Glass heated up with four kills over the next nine Transy points as the Pioneers suddenly found themselves with a 21-16 advantage. Kori Rudolph held serve for eight straight points to turn the set and match in Transylvania's favor. Glass and Horne finished off the set with successive kills as the Pioneers captured their first NCAA Tournament set win in program history.
Birmingham-Southern grew a 3-2 lead to start the third set but the Pioneers went on another key run, scoring five straight points to go up 7-3. The Tigers momentarily quelled the Pioneer run but the Pioneers scored another four unanswered times for a 12-5 advantage, capped off by consecutive kills from Horne.
The Pioneers crafted their largest lead of the set at 16-7 before the Tigers rallied back within two at 19-17. Adeline Tonn and Horne stretched the lead back out with timely kills before B-SC cut Transylvania's lead to 22-21. The Pioneers came through in the clutch with kills from Horne and Joie Porter to close out the set with a 25-21 for a two set to one lead.
Birmingham-Southern clinched the first set of the fourth set before the Pioneers broke out a seven-point blitz to go ahead for good. With Kailey Campbell holding serve, Horne amassed three kills to sandwich a Campbell ace and a pair of Tiger errors for a 7-1 outburst.
The Tigers would cut Transy's lead to 15-11 before Porter and Stigger powered the Pioneers on another four-point run for a 19-11 outlook. Transylvania deployed its best hitting percentage of any set in the final set, striking 16 kills to four errors for a .375 hitting percentage compared to a .097 hitting percentage by the Tigers.
The Pioneers shut the door on Birmingham-Southern with the final four points of the match, with Horne and Glass fittingly levying the final points for the Pioneers.
Transylvania's inaugural tournament win now sets the stage for a second-round dream bout with Emory University, the 2018 defending national champions and number one-ranked team in the nation, who enters into Saturday's match with a record of 30-2.
Saturday's second-round tournament match will pit the Pioneers and Eagles versus each other for the third time in three seasons; the Eagles prevailed in a pair of straight-set win in the previous meetings, winning at the Beck Center on September 22, 2017, and last season at P.E. Woodruff Center on September 6, 2018. Emory carries an 11-match win streak into Saturday's 5:00 p.m. tournament match with the Pioneers.
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