Colorado Springs, Colo. - The Transylvania volleyball team served up its second perceived stunner of the year and its third win over a nationally-ranked opponent in the 2019 season with a five-set win over the No. 7 Colorado College Tigers on Friday evening in the 2019 Pikes Peak Challenge at Reid Arena.
The Pioneers disposed of their second top-10 opponent of the year by defeating the highly-regarded tournament host Tigers before wrapping up their night with a four-set victory against the Whitworth University Pirates to complete the doubleheader.
The Pioneers improved to 8-2 on the season while increasing their season-high winning streak to seven matches.
Hannah Talkers led the Pioneers in their 28-26, 25-23, 26-24, 21-25, 17-15 win over the Tigers with an omnipotent performance consisting of a season-high 42 assists, 22 digs, eight kills, and five blocks. In the first match of the evening, the senior surpassed the 3,000-career assist mark in a measurably impactful performance.
Kicking off their westward trek to the Rocky Mountains, the Pioneers began competition on Friday with their most epic match of the year thus far as they waged a tightly contested battle throughout the evening with the Tigers, who carried a 7-1 record into the match.
Facing its fifth top 25 nationally-ranked opponent in 10 games to start the year, Transylvania jousted closely with Colorado College throughout the first set, immediately signaling what was to come throughout the match.
The Pioneers assumed an early lead before a 4-1 run midway through the set by Colorado College turned the tide in the Tigers' favor as they took the lead.
Jordan Horne delivered a fearsome laser shot from the right side to thin Transy's deficit to 19-17 and the Tigers missed a long hit as Transy brought the set to 19-18 in favor of the home team.
The first set increased its theatrics as a kill from Ellie Stigger eventually evened the score at 24-all. The Tigers reclaimed the lead but failed on a return to tie up the set again at 25-25. The Pioneers finished off the set with a strong block on the right side of the net to gain the first set victory of the evening.
The Tigers rebounded in the second set, coming back from a 21-17 deficit to win 25-23 against the Pioneers to tie up the match at one set apiece.
The Pioneers never yielded, putting together a .280 attacking percentage in the third set for a thrilling 26-24 victory. Taryn Glass had a fearsome third set as she gained many of her team-high 14 kills in the set, including a go-ahead shot for a 23-21 lead.
Behind 19 kills and a strong blocking game in the fourth set, Colorado College pulled away late from the Pioneers for their largest margin of any of the five sets, 25-21 to set the stage for an unforgettable fifth set that would certify the match as an instant classic.
Stigger made noise early in the fifth set with a forceful kill to give the Pios a 4-3 lead before the Tigers went on a sizable run to take a two-point lead. A two-handed push kill by Talkers to the far end of the court cut a Transy deficit to 11-10 before the Tigers inched closer to victory with a 13-11 advantage.
Serving for match point with a 14-12 lead, the Tigers, after a long rally, sent the ball in the net to keep the Pioneers' hopes alive. On the ensuing point, Sylvie Miller and Talkers each came up with match-saving digs that translated into a tying kill by Stigger that knotted up the match at 14-14. Transy then took a 15-14 lead after a Tiger error.
Following a Colorado College timeout, the Tigers tied up the match at 15-all with a hard kill from the left.
Then, Transylvania ensured that the kill would be the final one of the Tigers' evening.
On the next rally, Talkers and Stigger came up with a tandem rejection that sent the ball onto Colorado College's side and put the Pioneers in winning position again with a 16-15 lead.
Colorado College came close to finding another tying point, but the Pioneers dug out three attacks before Horne hit a slam to the left that was too difficult for the Tigers to contest, leading to a match-ending error.
Miller finished the night with 19 of Transylvania's 87 digs while Kori Rudolph added 14. Stigger finished the match with 13 kills while Horne added nine. Stigger led the Pioneers in blocks as the team finished with 30 in total.
Continuing to contend with the elements of playing 6,035 feet above sea level on a near-instant turnaround for its next opponent, Transylvania geared up for an encore performance against the Whitworth Pirates of the Northwest Conference. Fresh off two hours of rest, the Pirates slipped by the Pioneers in the first set with a 25-23 win.
The Pioneers returned the favor in the second set, coming out the winning end of a 25-23 set result to knot up the match at 1-1.
After facing a slim deficit at the midway point of the third set, the Pioneers went ahead 14-11 before marching away from the Pirates for a 25-17 victory.
The Pirates refused to bow down in the fourth set though the Pioneers built a 16-10 advantage. Whitworth clawed back to tie up the action at 17-all, but Transylvania returned to its hard-hitting ways to pull off one final clutch set win on Friday for a 25-23 final.
Transylvania completes its run at the Pikes Peak Challenge tomorrow afternoon with a 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time contest against Birmingham-Southern College at Reid Arena.
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