RICHMOND, Indiana - In front of one of the best crowds at Schuckman Court in recent memory, the Earlham College volleyball team fell to Defiance College in a marathon 5-set match 23-25, 25-16, 29-27, 10-25, 15-12 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) action on Wednesday evening.
Earlham jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the first set and led the advantage throughout. Defiance did fight off three set points trailing 24-20 to get within a point and force a Quaker timeout, but a Yellow Jacket service error that followed sealed the set for the hosts.
After hitting a .297 clip in set one, Earlham's offense sputtered in set two as the Quakers had 10 kills and seven errors for a .061 attack percentage. Defiance, on the other hand, made just three attack errors in the set. The Yellow Jackets opened the set on a 7-2 run and did not look back.
Contrary to the first two sets, neither team separated themselves from the other early in set three. A kill from freshman Carly Federinko with the score tied 9-9 gave the Quakers a slight advantage and saw junior Megan Hedinger step to the service line. Another Federinko kill and a block from junior Ashleigh Burton and sophomore Angelica Carpio stretched Earlham's lead to three and forced a Defiance timeout.
The Yellow Jackets got a side out off the timeout, but a Burton kill gave the Quakers the serve right back. Carpio served four points to push the hosts lead to 16-10, and after the team's traded side outs for six points, Earlham led 19-13.
Defiance then stormed back by winning 11 of the next 15 points to earn a set point at 24-23. Head coach Lauren Horton called timeout, and a Yellow Jacket service error followed by a kill from freshman Julia Stewart gave the Quakers their first set point at 25-24. Defiance would fight off that set point by forcing an Earlham attack error and another at 26-25 using a Morgan Porter kill. With the set tied 26-26, Porter again delivered for Defiance to give the Yellow Jackets their second set points at 27-26, but Stewart fought it off for Earlham. Unfortunately for the Quakers, Defiance won the next two points to win the set 29-27.
Trailing two sets to one, Earlham played nearly flawless volleyball in set four, losing just 10-of-35 points. Burton led the way with eight kills as the Quakers hit a blistering .448 (14 kills, one error and 29 attacks). Earlham continued to ride the momentum into set five by getting out to a 7-3 lead, but Defiance battled back to tie the set 7-7. A Burton kill gave the hosts an 8-7 lead as the two teams switched side.
The team's traded points until Earlham led 12-11, but a Defiance kill, a bad set and two Quaker attack errors gave the Yellow Jackets their second 5-set conference win of the season.
Burton finished with a career-high 25 kills on 40 attack attempts for a .525 attack percentage along with five blocks. Stewart had 17 kills while Federinko had nine kills. Sophomore setter Lauren Jackson dished out 54 assists while Hedinger and sophomore Sydney Ameluxen combined for 37 digs for Earlham's back row.
Porter and Jessi Davis both had 14 kills for the Yellow Jackets on offense. Madison Hollis dished out 43 assists while Jaidyn Patridge had 26 digs.
Earlham served aggressively as it tallied 11 service aces compared just give for Defiance. The Quakers also held a slight advantage in kills (61-49) and attack percentage.
The Quakers dip to 13-6 overall and 1-1 in HCAC play with the loss. Earlham will look to rebound on Saturday when the Quakers host Franklin College at 1 p.m.