OLIVET, Mich. -- Led by a combined 30 kills from sophomore Emma Woerner and a .262 hitting percentage for the night, Denison volleyball swept the first day of competition at the Albion-Olivet Invitational with 3-0 wins over Finlandia University (25-16, 25-18, 25-16) and Olivet College (25-17, 25-17, 25-21) on Friday night at Olivet's Cutler Event Center.
Against Finlandia, the Big Red leaned on a .378 kill percentage during the first set and three early kills from senior Isabella Pivec to jump out to a 6-1 advantage. Leading 20-13 at the end of the set, Woerner, Olivia Burnside, and Payton McElfresh combined for four of Denison's 20 kills in the first set to enter the middle frame up 1-0.
DU took a 2-0 lead over the Lions after they recorded the final six points of the second set on multiple service aces from Pivec and a kill from Kaila Kasper. The momentum stayed on the side of Denison in the final set when Woerner, Pivec, and Katie Kerrigan helped the Big Red connect on .379 percent of their kills to go on two separate 5-0 scoring runs and sweep the first match of the night with a 25-16 victory.
Woerner's 16 kills against Finlandia were a match-high and a new three-set career-best for the sophomore. She also added a game-high 11 digs. Pivec finished with nine kills while Julia Miller paced the Big Red with 37 assists. Junior Alex Tubbs chipped in seven kills and Kasper and Marija Pavlick combined for 17 digs. DU's .320 hitting percentage for the match was also a season-best.
In the win over Olivet, Denison kept their momentum from the first match as they took a 16-8 lead in the opening set on three attacking errors from the Comets and kills from McElfresh and Pivec to earn six-consecutive points. Leading 23-17, Miller fed Woerner for the final two kills of the set to go up early, 1-0.
Three kills from Tubbs allowed the Big Red to take nine of the first 10 points during the second set and enter the third frame with a 2-0 lead.
Despite winning the first five points in the final set and taking an 18-14 lead on back-to-back kills from McElfresh, Olivet tallied six of the next seven points to go in front, 20-19. OC's lead didn't last long as three-straight attacking errors from the Comets gave the lead back to Denison and two kills from Woerner helped the Big Red sweep the night with their second-straight victory and improved to 9-12 on the season.
McElfresh and Woerner combined for 24 kills in the win, while Miller matched her assists total from the first victory with 37. Pavlick added a match-high 20 digs and Tubbs finished with seven kills.
The Big Red will travel to Albion College on Saturday, October 20 for day two of the Albion-Olivet Invitational. Denison will play No. 14 Wisconsin-Eau Claire at 1 p.m. before a matchup with tournament co-host Albion at 3 p.m.