MARTIN, TN. (WFIE) - For the first time since the 2010 campaign, the University of Evansville volleyball team has won eight matches in a row as the Purple Aces defeated Mercer by a 3-1 final in their final non-conference match of 2019.
Leading the Evansville (9-2) offense was the duo of Rachel Tam and Melanie Feliciano, who combined for 37 kills. Tam posted 19 while Feliciano added 18. Gabriela Macedo posted 17 digs to lead four Aces in double figures. Alondra Vazquez had 15 with Allana McInnis registering 12 and Tam finishing with 10. McInnis added a team-best 41 assists.
Tam was named the MVP of the tournament while Feliciano and McInnis earned spots on the All-Tournament Team. The trio has helped Evansville win eight straight matches, the longest streak since a 9-game streak in 2010. It matches a 9-2 start in the 2011 campaign.
“This was a great weekend to close non-conference and to end up winning the tournament will give us a lot of confidence,” UE coach Fernando Morales said after the win. “We are finding different ways to win and that is important as we get to conference play. We are excited about the MVC and the girls are ready for the challenge.”
Game one saw the Aces jump out to a 3-1 lead with each point being a Melanie Feliciano kill. The Bears rebounded to take their first lead at 5-4 in a run that saw them reel off nine out of 11 tallies to go up by an 11-5 score. Alondra Vazquez helped Evansville get within three at 17-14, but Mercer fended off the challenge and pulled away for a 25-17 decision.
After Mercer ran out to a 3-1 advantage in the second frame, Evansville came back with a 4-0 stretch that included a Cecilia Thon service ace. The Bears rallied to grab a 10-9 lead before UE came back with five in a row. Following a Rachel Tam kill, the UE defense forced three Bear errors in a row to go up by a 14-10 score. Mercer responded with a point before UE put three more on the board, taking a 17-11 score and forcing the Bears to use their second time out. The Aces never let the Bears get closer as they pulled away for a 25-14 victory.
Neither team could wrestle away the lead in the early moment of the third set before the Bears were able to turn an 11-11 tie into a 14-11 edge. The Aces inched their way back before kills from Tam and Feliciano helped UE tie it up at 19-all. Each point would be tied leading to a 27-27 score. Feliciano added a kill before recording the clinching service ace in a 29-27 victory as the Aces took a 2-1 match lead.
Evansville took its first lead of the fourth game at 6-5 on a Mercer error, but the Bears turned it around and inched out to a 13-10 edge. The Aces did not let the deficit deter them as they rallied on an 8-2 stretch to take an 18-15 advantage. Vazquez added a pair of kills while Allana McInnis had a service ace that gave the Aces the lead. From there, UE held strong from there to record a 25-22 win and clinch the match.
Missouri Valley Conference play is up next for the Aces, who open next Friday at UNI before traveling to Drake for a match on Saturday.