BARBOURVILLE — Maggie McGraw (freshman/Elkhorn, Wisconsin) hammered down a match-high 15 kills, leading a balanced Union College volleyball attack, as the Bulldogs battled back for a 3-2 (23-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-18, 15-13) Appalachian Athletic Conference win over Milligan (Tennessee), Tuesday evening.
With the home and conference opener win, the Bulldogs improve to 6-2 overall and 1-0 in conference play. The Buffaloes fall to 4-4 and 1-1 in conference play.
In the first set, Union fell behind early, before surging to a 21-15 set lead on three straight kills from Marissa Elam (sophomore/Muncie, Indiana). The lead was short lived as Milligan went on a 10-2 run to close out the first set with a 25-23 comeback win.
The second set went back-and-forth as the Bulldogs capitalized on a couple of Buffaloes errors to pull within 21-20. Kills from Julia Edmonds (junior/Burlington) and McGraw gave the Bulldogs the lead for good as they battled back for a 25-23 win to even the match at 1-1.
Union came out sluggish in the third set and it proved costly as Milligan took advantage for a 25-15 set win. At one point in the set, Milligan scored seven straight points.
Looking for revenge in a crucial fourth set, the Bulldogs took the lead from the opening serve and never looked back as an Edmonds kill sealed the Bulldogs 25-18 win to send the match to the fifth set.
In the pivotal fifth set, Union jumped out to a 4-1 lead on kills from Rachel Andrews (sophomore/Louisville), Chandler Gray (senior/Alexandria) and Edmonds. Two McGraw attacking errors and a Jenna Headrick kill gave Milligan an 11-9 with the momentum in their favor.
The Bulldogs remained composed and soared back to send the fifth set down to the wire. After three straight kills from McGraw, Andrews and Edmonds the Bulldogs regained the lead 14-13.
The match point came down to one serve as Samantha Bruinius could not handle the Ivana Kazic (junior/Belgrade, Serbia) serve, as the Kazic ace gave Union the 3-2 win over AAC Foe Milligan.
Overall, the Bulldogs were led by double-digit attacking performances from McGraw (15) and Elam (10). Gray and Kazic combined for 35 of the Bulldogs 45 assists in the contest.
Union was without their two-time AAC Defender of the Year Ana Calaza (senior/Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), so the Bulldogs were counting on each other to pick up from a missing defensive presence.
Union got three double-digit performances out of its back row. Summer Manning (senior/Taylor Mill) led the way with a match-high 21 digs, while Bella Salazar (sophomore/Arlington, Texas) finished with 13 and McGraw contributed 11 digs.
The Bulldogs will continue conference play on Friday as they host St. Andrews (N.C.). Action is set for 6:30 p.m. inside Robsion Arena.