MEMPHIS, TN - Despite falling to Evansville, 3-1 (23-25, 23-25, 25-14, 24-26) at Elma Roane Fieldhouse on Saturday evening, the Redhawks claimed the Memphis Invitational Championship. Due to three teams finishing with identical 2-1 records in the invite the Redhawks were crowned champions due to point differential. It is the second time the Redhawks have claimed the Memphis Inviational title after winning it back in 2006. Their loss to Evansville snapped a five-game winning streak at the invite.
The highly competitive and tightly contested match could have went the Redhawks (2-1) way and it appeared they had the momentum after crushing the Purple Aces (2-1) in the third set, 25-14. At one point the Redhawks held a 12-point lead in that set, 19-7 after three-straight kills including two by Paige Dossey. Senior Sarah Barth handed out 16 assists during the set.
The Redhawks hit a scorching .556 in the third set as they committed just one attack error. The Purple Aces on the other hand hit just .057.
In the fourth set the Purple Aces jumped ahead 12-7, taking advantage of attack errors by the Redhawks. The Redhawks went on a 7-1 run to grab the lead 14-13 capped by a Karlee Lursen kill. That lead would be short-lived as the Purple Aces regained the lead. The Redhawks would knot the score up five times until the Purple Aces jumped ahead 24-20 and serving for match point.
The Redhawks continued to battle as they would go on one more final run to tie the set at 24-all. The Purple Aces recorded the final two points for the match victory.
The Purple Aces jumped ahead 2-0 on identical 25-23 scores in the first two sets. In the opening set the Redhawks jumped ahead early before the Purple Aces rallied. Trailing 24-19 the Redhawks went on a 4-0 run to make it a one-point game, 24-23 but the Purple Aces closed out the set on a kill by Brooke Maher.
In set two the Purple Aces grabbed an early 6-1 before the Redhawks would rally and grab a 12-9 lead. The Purple Aces would rally themselves and regain the lead. The Redhawks were the first team to 20 and jumped ahead 21-19 on kills by Barth and Lursen. That lead would be short-lived as the Purple Aces would win six of the final eight points for the set victory.
Junior middle blocker Emily Hughes continued her strong play as she set a new career-best with a match-high 24 kills. She also finished with a match-high .500 attack percentage, committing just three attack errors. She also recorded a team-best four block assists. It was her third-straight double-digit kill match to start the season. For her efforts she was named the invites Most Outstanding Player. She averaged 4.64 kills per set, hit .398 and tallied an average of nearly one block per set during the invite.
Karleigh DeLong also recorded her third-straight double-digit kill match of the season as she finished with 10 kills. She also added 16 digs for her second double-double of the season. DeLong was named to the All-Invitational Team after averaging 3.18 kills per set and 3.91 digs per set.
Lursen also recorded her second double-double of her freshman season with 10 kills and 13 digs.
DeLong and Lursen were among six Redhawks who recorded double-digit digs with Molly Davis leading the way with a match-high 20 digs.
Barth handed out a match-high and season's best 54 assists and chipped in 11 digs for her second double-double of the season. Barth joined teammates Hughes and DeLong on the All-Invitational Team as she averaged 12.45 assists per set
The Purple Aces had four players in double digits in kills led by Viera Rajcan's 12 kills. Ellen Swain had a double-double with a team-high 45 assists and 11 digs. April Lubrecht led the team with 17 digs. Maher had a double-double with 10 kills and 16 digs.
For the match the Redhawks outhit the Purple Aces finishing with an attack percentage of .230 compared to their opponents .190 clip. It is the third-straight match the Redhawks have finished with an attack percentage over .200.
The Redhawks return to the court on Friday, September 4 in Nashville, Tennessee as they face Belmont at 5:00 p.m. in the opening match of the Belmont Invitational.