Tornados Capture Five-Set Thriller

Tornados Capture Five-Set Thriller

BREVARD, N.C.Hannah Elmore led three Tornado hitters in double figure kills, recording a match-high 22, as Brevard topped Piedmont by scores of 25-18, 23-25, 25-21, 16-25 and 15-9 in the home finale at Boshamer Gym on Tuesday evening.

Teammates Stephanie Lambert (14 kills) and Whitney DeMoss (13) were also instrumental in an Brevard offense that tallied 65 kills in 199 total attacks, as the Tornados (9-4) posted a .171 attack percentage. Senior setter Josie McElroy tied her season-high with 50 assists.

Defensively, Brevard limited the Lions (10-8) to a .112 attack percentage and 46 kills. The Tornado defense was anchored by five players with double figure dig outings, including Bri Vargas (17) and Maggie Weiss (16). Meanwhile, Rachel Ruble (three assisted blocks) and DeMoss (two assisted blocks) anchored the front row.

Behind three kills and a Kaitly Loesel service ace Piedmont established a 4-0 lead early in the fifth set. However, Brevard quickly grabbed the momentum away with a slam and service ace from Lambert to draw even at four. The Tornados capitalized on a barrage of kills from Rachel Ruble, Elmore and DeMoss to remain in front 8-7.

After the two teams switched sides, Brevard converted an assisted block by DeMoss and Ruble as it stretched the lead to three. Consecutive kills down the stretch by Ruble, Vargas and DeMoss, coupled with a decisive block by Lambert provided the Tornados with their second five-game victory of the season by a six-point margin.

Four points by Loesel, including three kills, allowed Piedmont to streak out to a 6-1 lead in the opening stages of the fourth set. The Tornados regained their offensive rhythm, converting kills by McElroy and Ruble, to trim the margin to 9-5.

Piedmont was unfazed by the Tornado rally, scoring six of the next 10 points as it built a 15-9 lead due in large part to five Brevard miscues. Erica Balkcum drove home two kills for the Lions, extending the advantage to 21-14, before a timely slam by Elmore pulled Brevard within six. Piedmont added two kills from Durmire down the stretch to earn the nine-point win.

Carrying over the momentum from a win in game two, Piedmont grabbed a 5-1 advantage in the third set behind the service game of Haley Hixon that forced three Tornado errors. The Lions stretched that margin to seven, 13-6, midway through the game with Kylie Blanton in serve, forcing a Brevard timeout.

With the Tornados trailing 18-11 late in the match, a slam by Lambert helped get the offense back on track. Following that point, Vargas stepped into serve and used two kills by Elmore and one from Lambert to trim the deficit to 20-17. Elmore added four kills down the stretch as Brevard completed the rally and earned the four-point victory.

The two units battled through nine ties in the first 22 points to reach an 11-all deadlock on an unforced Brevard error. The Tornados rebounded and eventually built a four-point lead, 18-14, on a service ace by Weiss.

That lead quickly evaporated with Lainey Choiniere in serve as the Lions scored five of the next six points and pull even at 19. With the set knotted at 23, following a kill by Elmore, Piedmont capitalized on a kill and a block by Blanton to earn the win.

The front row combination of DeMoss, Lambert and Elmore helped Brevard establish a 12-7 lead in the opening frame. The Tornados used that momentum, along with a kill by Vargas, to move in front by six and force a Piedmont timeout.

After Piedmont trimming the lead to three, 16-13, following a kill by Alina Roberts, the Tornados got a boost from Lambert who came through with a kill and a service ace as the lead ballooned to 19-13. Four kills down the stretch, including two from DeMoss, helped the Tornados preserve the victory.

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