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WildCats Split in Day One of Maroon Classic

Autumn Troxell digs the ball

SALEM, Va. – The Randolph College volleyball team fell in straight sets (22-25, 10-25, 23-25) to Methodist University before taking a 3-2 win (23-25, 25-17, 25-23, 15-25, 15-12) over Piedmont College on the first day of the Maroon Classic, hosted by Roanoke College.

Game 1: Methodist 3, Randolph 0

Despite Randolph grabbing an early 3-0 lead out of the gates, the Monarchs took advantage of several errors committed by the WildCats to jump ahead, 4-3. However, Methodist would commit several mistakes as well, handing Randolph back the lead as the WildCats secured a 10-6 margin. A 3-0 run by the Monarchs trimmed the deficit to 10-9 and soon both teams found themselves in a battle for the lead with Methodist coming out victorious as the Monarchs pulled ahead, 19-15, forcing Randolph to take a timeout.

Coming out of the break, the WildCats fired off four unanswered points to level the score, causing the Monarchs to take a timeout of their own. Methodist would briefly take the lead before Randolph evened the score to 21-all off a kill by Autumn Troxell (Front Royal, Va./Warren County). Shortly after, errors committed by both teams would deliver points on both sides but in the end the Monarchs would take the 25-22 set win.

Methodist dominated the second set, pulling ahead of the WildCats, 6-1, before extending its lead to 17-9. Despite Randolph's best efforts, the Monarchs could not be stopped as they went on to seal the win with a 25-10 score.

Although the Monarchs jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in set three, the WildCats took advantage of several Methodist attack errors to close the gap to 5-4. Both teams would battle back-and-forth for the lead with the Monarchs grabbing a 9-7 margin. However, it would not last long as Randolph pushed a 4-0 run to take control of the score for the first time (11-9). Methodist fought back with an 11-4 burst for a 20-15 lead, forcing Randoph to call a timeout.

Coming out of the break, kills by Rebecca Lesnak (Blountville, Tenn./Sullivan Central) and Taja Hunley (Dalzell, S.C./Thomas Sumter Academy) started off a 7-4 run for the WildCats, trimming the deficit to 24-23, but the Monarchs landed the final kill to claim match victory.

Troxell delivered 10 kills for the WildCats while Lesnak added seven kills and Hunley chipped in four, in addition to five block assists. Brooks Gillerlain (Suffolk, Va./Nansemond-Suffolk Academy) dished out a team-high 12 assists while Taylor Webb (Nassawadox, Va./Northampton) distributed 10 assists of her own and Sam Verhaagen (Virginia Beach, Va./Norfolk Christian) led the defense with 14 digs.

Game 2: Randolph 3, Piedmont 2

The Lions took control of the lead early on, jumping ahead 7-1 before extending their margin to 9-4. However the WildCats gained momentum once the ball returned to their side of the court served seven unanswered points, giving Randolph an 11-9 edge. The WildCats remained in the lead with the Lions trailing by only one point before they pushed a 3-0 run to jump ahead, 20-17. After a brief timeout called by the WildCats, a service error put Randolph back on track and the score would eventually be leveled to 22-all thanks to a kill by Troxell. Still, it would not be enough as Piedmont managed to take back the lead and seal the set with a 25-23 score.

The second set saw Randolph come alive as the WildCats stormed ahead for a massive 13-3 lead over the Lions. Randolph would soon see its margin start to decrease as the Lions trimmed the deficit to 19-17, but Piedmont would be unable to get any closer as a 6-0 burst gave Randolph the set win.

In set three, both teams battled for the lead with the score never separating by more than two points. With a 10-all stalemate, Piedmont made its move off of a 4-0 run to pull ahead and force the WildCats to call a timeout. The Lions continued to run off with the lead but back-to-back kills by Troxell kicked off a Randolph assault that saw the WildCats cut the deficit to 21-19. Piedmont was able to get in two more points in but the momentum was all Randolph as a 6-0 run, concluded with back-to-back service aces by Verhaagen, handed the WildCats a 2-1 match advantage.

Similar to the third set, the score remained close in the fourth stanza before Piedmont ran ahead with a 12-8 lead off five unanswered points. The Lions continued to build their lead, eventually securing a comfortable 23-14 margin. Despite Randolph's best efforts, the Lions delivered the final kill for the win and sent the match into a deciding set.

Despite Piedmont holding a 5-3 lead in the fifth set, the Lions committed several errors that saw their point margin disappear, allowing Randolph to pull ahead, 7-5. Randolph remained in the lead but the Lions were never far behind and would eventually trim the score to 13-12. However it would not be enough as a kill by Troxell and a Piedmont attack error sealed the WildCats' first win of the season.

Troxell posted a double-double 19 kills and 15 digs while Mackenzie Ambrose (Floyd, Va./Floyd County) also concluded the day with a double-double 13 kills and 16 digs, in addition to five service aces. Gillerlain finished the match with 23 assists while Webb added 21 assists. Verhaagen recorded a team-high 19 digs in the win.

The WildCats improve to 1-6 and look to add to their win column tomorrow when they return for the second and final day of the Maroon Classic. Randolph faces Averett University at 1 p.m. before taking on Mary Baldwin College at 3 p.m.