Volleyball Defeats Samford to Keep Regular Season Championship Hopes Alive
BIRMINGHAM, ALA. – UNCG volleyball kept its hopes of a Southern Conference regular season championship alive with a 3-1 (22-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-22) victory over the Samford Bulldogs on Friday night. The Spartans improve to 17-11 on the season, and 11-4 in Southern Conference play. Samford falls to 18-13, and 9-7 in SoCon play.
UNCG has unofficially earned the second seed in the SoCon tournament that will be hosted by those same Bulldogs, Nov. 19-21 in Birmingham. With only the Chattanooga Mocs remaining on the regular season schedule, UNCG has a two game lead over the third-place Mocs. Chattanooga will enter tomorrow’s match with a 9-6 SoCon record. The SoCon-leading ETSU Buccaneers will take on Mercer in Macon, Ga., tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. With a Spartan victory and an ETSU loss to Mercer, the Spartans could share the SoCon regular season championship with ETSU. The Bucs have earned the one seed in the tournament, owning the tie-breaker with UNCG.
Five Spartans hit in double figures in Friday’s matchup with Samford. Ashley Muench (Hurdle Mills, N.C./Orange) earned a match-best 15 kills. Chinwendu Ngwadom (Raleigh, N.C./Chicago State) earned a career-best 11 kills in the match, on 23 attacks. Jasmine Jones (Stafford, Va./Brook Point), Alexis Mourier (Elkview, W.Va./George Washington) and Jessica Brezwyn (Darien, Ill./Hinsdale South) each notched 10 kills. Brezwyn hit at a match-best .471 average.
Allison Penner (Aurora, Neb./Aurora) recorded 48 assists, to go with 11 digs. Penner has earned at least 45 assists in 11 matches, and notched her 11th double-double of the season on Friday night.
The Spartan defense registered 60 digs in the match, led by Christina Gregory’s (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) 17. Muench added 14, with Ronni Katarzynski (Winfield, Ill./West Chicago) chipping in 10.
UNCG suffered its only set loss right off the bat. After being tied at 20, UNCG earned a quick lead on back-to-back kills from Mourier and Muench before Samford rattled off five-straight to take the set. Three UNCG attack errors, as well as a ball handling error in the run aided the Bulldogs. A kill from Erin Bognar gave Samford the first set.
Samford continued that hot stretch into the second set. With the Bulldogs leading 18-11, UNCG used a 6-1 run to cut the lead down to 20-16 in favor of Samford. The Spartans continued to chip away, using a 5-1 run to trim the lead to 22-21, Bulldogs. UNCG then scored four-straight points to earn the come-from-behind win. A pair of kills from Brezwyn, a Ngwadom kill and a Bulldog attack error gave UNCG its first set.
UNCG was able to gain an early lead, and held on down the stretch to take the third set. After UNCG went up 13-7, before Samford used a 4-0 run to trim the lead down to 13-11. Samford continued its come back late as it took its first led of the set at 22-21. The Spartans were able to withstand the late Samford run and score four of the last five points to take the 2-1 lead.
After taking a 4-3 lead in the fourth set, UNCG never relinquished the lead to a very tough Bulldog squad. Samford was able to knot the set up at 18, 19 and 22 points before the Spartans could put the set away. UNCG scored the final three points down the stretch to take the set, and the match. Kills from Muench and Jones, as well as a ball handling error on Samford’s Taylor Anderton aided UNCG’s final push.
UNCG returns to action tomorrow night as it takes on Chattanooga at 6:00 inside Maclellan Gym.