FRANKLIN, Ind. – The Franklin College volleyball team secured a critical Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) win on Friday night, knocking off the Bluffton Beavers in four sets inside the Spurlock Center.
Franklin (10-15, 3-4 HCAC) moved into fifth place in the HCAC after knocking off the league's second place team in Bluffton (13-12, 5-2 HCAC) in four heart-pounding sets. Four different Grizzlies racked up double-digit kill totals, led by a career-high 19 put-aways from sophomore Abigail Sewell.
Kyra Harvey and Lexie Gifford added 13 kills each and Timber Falin hammered home 10 kills for a Franklin team that hit .262 on the night, the fourth-highest single-game hitting percentage for the team in 2018.
The opening set saw the Beavers jump out to an early 9-3 lead before the Grizzlies re-grouped and slowly began to chip away at the lead. The Grizzlies' big run came in the form of an 8-1 rally that flipped a five-point deficit into a 20-17 lead. Bluffton rallied back to force set point, but Franklin snatched the opening set with three straight points to close out a 26-24 win.
Game two saw the two teams exchange several ties and leads but nothing was decided and the two teams sat tied at 25 after the Beavers fought of game point. Sewell squashed the Beavers' comeback bid, hammering home the final two kills to close out a 27-25 game two win and staking the Grizzlies to a 2-0 lead. The Grizzlies recorded 21 of their 27 points in set two with kills, racking up a .275 hitting percentage in the set.
Bluffton fought off elimination with a 25-21 win in game three and jumped out to a 7-4 lead early in the fourth set. But a 7-0 Franklin run flipped the momentum and put the Grizzlies in front for good. The Beavers pushed back and trimmed the Franklin deficit to one late in the game, but Sewell put the match to rest with a thunderous kill to seal a 25-23 win in the deciding game.
Sewell led the Grizzlies with a .457 attacking percentage, following closely by Falin at .474 and Harvey at .286. Serving up assists to the Grizzly attackers was sophomore Mackenzie Waldran, who finished the night with a career-high 53 assists.
On defense, four Grizzlies racked up double-digit kill totals. Senior libero Libby Stahl led all players with 22 digs followed by a season-high 17 digs from Harvey. Gifford and Allison Thompson added 13 digs each, helping stifle the high-powered Bluffton offense all night long. Sewell led the net-front defense with five blocks while Gifford had a season-high four rejections.
Franklin wraps up their regular season home schedule next Wednesday (Oct. 24) when Hanover College comes to town for Senior Night inside the Spurlock Center. First serve is set for 7:00 p.m.