American Edges Volleyball In Thrilling Fashion To Conclude Spartan-Aggie Invitational
GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG took American University, a squad that has won 10 of the last 11 Patriot League championships, down to the wire Saturday night, rallying from a 2-0 deficit only to fall by the slimmest of margins in the deciding set to end the Spartan-Aggie Invitational inside Fleming Gymnasium. All three of UNCG's losses this campaign have been in five-set affairs.
"We played a really great team tonight, a Top-100 team, and took them to five sets, so I am really proud of our squad," head coach Patrick Nicholas said. "I hope we can learn from this and start to take some more steps forward as a team."
Freshman Katherine Santiago continued the sensational start to her career in the match, racking up a match and career-high 32 digs. She was named the tournament's top libero and earned a spot on the all-tournament team for her efforts during the weekend as she averaged 5.15 digs per set. Sophomore Vicky Harley was also recognized on the all-tournament team, piling up a .259 hitting percentage as well as 1.18 blocks per set during the event.
The teams were virtually even in many statistical categories, both recording 60 kills while the Eagles had a slight advantage in assists (57-56) and digs (78-75). American arguably won the match at the net, posting 15.0 blocks as compared to 8.0 for the home side. The Eagles also hit .207, which included a .281 showing in the fifth frame, while limiting UNCG to a .152 performance.
American jumped out to a 4-1 advantage on a Harley attacking error, but Kylann Scheidt returned the favor a few points later, allowing the Spartans to tied things at six apiece. It was a tight frame throughout, until two-straight errors gave the visitors a 19-16 cushion. UNCG would force tie scores at 20, 21, 22 and 23, but two Eagle kills pushed American over the top and to a 25-23 victory.
The Spartans fell behind 8-4 in the second interval and couldn't recover. The Eagles quickly ended the set by out-scoring UNCG 17-8.
Coming out of the intermission, a Chambers kill pushed the Spartans in front by a 10-7 count. American responded with three-straight points to knot the score at 10. After a Bree Scarborough kill kept the set tied at 19, two kills and an Eagle attacking miscue afforded UNCG a 22-19 lead. American would call timeout, but the Spartans had just enough to stave off their guests – taking the third set by two points at 26-24.
UNCG took control of the fourth interval and led 12-7 when Humphries pounded the ball down on the Eagles' side. American's subsequent timeout backfired as Chambers scored three of the next four points to make it a 16-7 score. An Eagle block made things interesting and pulled American to within 17-13, but the Spartans allowed the visitors just three more points and cruised to a 25-16 win. UNCG would play a deciding fifth set for the third time in the last four matches.
Things looked grim for the Blue and Gold early in the decider as the Eagles grabbed leads of 8-5 and 10-7, but a timeout proved beneficial for the Spartans as they rattled off three-straight points – including a kills from Humphries and Chambers. After a kill by Sara Rishell made it match point for her team at 14-12, UNCG received kills from an unlikely combination of McMurtrey and Santiago to ward off two of American's potential game-winning rallies. The Spartans were able to tie the score at 15 and 16 before two kills allowed the Eagles to escape with an 18-16 victory and the match.
UNCG continues its seven-match homestand Thursday, Sept. 13, when it hosts Ohio University. First serve at Fleming Gymnasium is slated for 7 p.m.
2012 Spartan-Aggie Invitational All-Tournament Team
- UNCG -