DU volleyball earns first NCAC victory at Kenyon

Kaila Kasper  |  Photo by Jace Delgado
Kaila Kasper | Photo by Jace Delgado

GAMBIER, Ohio -- Thanks to a .231 hit percentage in the second set and a game-high 17 kills from Kaila Kasper, Denison volleyball earned their first win in North Coast Athletic Conference play on Saturday afternoon after traveling to Kenyon College and defeating the Ladies 3-1 (25-22, 25-22, 19-25, 25-17) at Tomsich Arena.

Led by an offensive attack that turned into 54 kills for the Big Red, Denison opened the first set with a 10-6 lead on back-to-back kills from Payton McElfresh and a service ace from Kasper. Despite a 9-3 scoring run from Kenyon that followed, kills by Kasper and senior Isabella Pivec allowed the Big Red retake the lead and finish the first set with a 25-22 victory.

Carrying a 1-0 advantage into the second set kills from Julia Miller and McElfresh helped the Big Red stay tied with Kenyon, 7-7. After a service ace from KC's Meghan Cason gave the Ladies a 19-14 lead, Kasper and freshman Olivia Burnside combined for the next three Denison kills as the Big Red won six-straight points to go ahead 20-19 late in the set.

Three of the next four points went to KC but kills from Kasper and Alex Tubbs gave the Big Red the final four points of the set to increase DU's lead to 2-0.

After falling in the third set 25-19, Denison stormed out in the fourth frame with an 8-4 lead following services aces from McElfresh and Marija Pavlick to force a Kenyon timeout.

Leading 11-9 in the final frame, three KC attacking errors helped the Big Red tally five-consecutive points to go ahead 16-9. Leading by as many as eight points in the fourth set, DU's Tubbs and Burnside tallied the final two points of the day as Denison completed the four-set victory.

The win moved the Big Red to 6-10 overall and 1-3 in the conference, while Kenyon dropped to 12-6 and 2-1 in the NCAC.

McElfresh finished just behind Kasper with 14 kills while tying for second on the team with Kasper with 16 digs. The Big Red were paced offensively by Miller's 42 digs, and Pavlick ended the day with a match-best 29 digs.

Kenyon's Delaney Swanson led the team with 13 kills and chipped in 19 digs. Cason finished with 35 assists, and Alexi Donnelly and Mackenzie Bruzzio each tallied 13 digs.

Denison will return home on Wednesday, October 10 to host No. 5 Wittenberg at Livingston Gymnasium at 7 p.m.