BOONE, N.C. – After a tough loss to Western Carolina yesterday, the UNCG volleyball team bounced back and captured a thrilling 3-1 (21-25, 25-17, 27-25, 29-27) victory over Appalachian State Sunday at the Holmes Convocation Center.
"This was a great road win for us," head coach Patrick Nicholas said. "It was nice to see Karrian (Chambers) return and play really well after what she went through the past few days. I was pleased with Julia (Westerbur) who blocked well and hit smart. Katherine (Santiago) was big in the third set and hit her serving zones perfectly. I was also happy with the consistency Olivia (Humphries) showed with her hitting and defense throughout the match.
We blocked better as the match went on and it was nice to see the team be mentally tough when Appalachian made its runs in the fourth set."
The Spartans (8-7, 3-1) welcomed back the services of junior Karrian Chambers who missed Saturday's match to tend to a family matter. She exploded for 20 kills and a career-high tying 22 digs for her third double-double of the season – a team high. Redshirt junior Olivia Humphries also tallied a double-double with 16 kills and 13 digs while junior Morgan Freeman and freshman Lauren Betlach chipped in 12 and 13 kills respectively.
UNCG was the better team offensively, racking up 68 kills on 170 swings with 24 errors for a .259 hitting mark. The Spartans were able to limit the Mountaineers (5-13, 1-3) to .180 and 57 kills. The visiting UNCG side also out-dug the home team 80-69 while ASU edged the Spartans in blocks by a 12.0-11.0 count.
After Westerbur scored the first point of the match for UNCG off a kill, the Mountaineers responded with six-straight to force an early timeout. UNCG scored three of the next four points to pull within 7-4, but ASU stopped the rally as a bad set by McMurtrey gave Appalachian a 16-11 advantage. The Spartans began to settle down from there, netting four of the next five points to draw within 17-15 on a McMurtrey kill. The momentum would not last however as a Dalton Tolliver score made it 23-19 and the Mountaineers closed out the frame by a 25-21 score.
The first-set loss marked the 12th time this season in 15 matches in which UNCG has dropped the first interval. ASU used its block well in the set, recording four stuffs as compared to one for the Spartans. The Mountaineers also hit .281 while UNCG was not far behind at .265. Freeman knocked down six kills, leading all players, on seven attempts with no errors to hit .857 in the frame.
The Spartans jumped out to a quick 6-3 lead in the second set before a Lauren Betlach error helped ASU to draw within 8-7. UNCG found its rhythm from there as the offensive tempo increased. The Spartans found themselves ahead by 19-12 thanks to an 11-5 run capped off by an Appalachian State attacking error. The Mountaineers scored the next two points but UNCG quelled the rally and a Humphries kill ended the interval in favor of the Blue and Gold at 25-17.
Chambers paced the Spartans through the first two sets with nine kills and 13 digs while UNCG hit .309 as a team – .340 in the frame. Meanwhile, ASU was limited to a .116 hitting performance.
The Mountaineers pushed ahead 6-3 after nine points of the third set and grew the advantage to 11-6 on a service ace. Things looked dire for the Blue and Gold when another ace made it 18-12, but a 10-3 out of nowhere allowed UNCG to take a 22-21 advantage. The Spartans got a block from McMurtrey and Freeman to make it 23-21, but UNCG fell behind 25-24 on an ASU block. The Spartans gathered themselves and were able to score the final three points of the set to eke out a 27-25 win and take a 2-1 match advantage.
Both squads suffered from sub-.200 hitting efforts in the frame as UNCG checked in at .122 and the Mountaineers at .065. Chambers was also able to up her totals to 13 kills and digs apiece.
The Spartans fell behind 5-2 in the fourth but rallied to the tune of a 12-5 run to capture a 14-10 advantage. A ball-handling error by Paige Brown stretched the UNCG lead to 19-14, but ASU drew within one at 20-19 on a Lauren Brown kill. The Spartans earned two match points, but the Mountaineers reached down and scored two-straight to stay alive. UNCG fell behind 25-24 when Emily Corrigan put down a kill but two Lauren Betlach kills gave the Spartans match point again. Appalachian was able to stay alive and had the set tied at 27. However, Freeman and Chambers closed the door with consecutive kills.
UNCG returns home this weekend to kick off a three-match homestand. The Spartans welcome North Division rival Samford to Fleming Gymnasium Friday, Oct. 5 for a 6 p.m. first serve.
- UNCG -