GREENSBORO, N.C. – A record crowd of 1,203 people filled Fleming Gymnasium for the final match of the Spartan-Demon Deacon Classic Saturday night as the two host institutions faced off. UNCG fell to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 3-1 (25-11, 25-17, 20-25, 25-15) n the finale of the four-team tournament. UNCG falls to 2-1 with the loss, while Wake Forest finishes opening weekend 3-0. The 1,203 spectators surpassed the previous high of 1,131 set in 2010 as UNCG hosted The Citadel.
“I’m really proud of how we battled back after the first two sets” Head coach Corey Carlin said, “We knew the challenge that Wake Forest would present coming into the weekend. We stayed focused throughout the tournament and didn’t look ahead. They’re a good team. We took a very positive step tonight; the first two sets were mostly our errors. We out-blocked them going into the locker room, we just hit too many balls into the net and out of bounds. We challenged our team to play cleaner and battle and attack the 900 square feet on the other side of the court. In set three, we out hit them by 10-percent and we only had three errors and those errors were blocks. The way we responded in that third set is what I’m most proud of tonight. I’m happy with the way we battled at the end and hopefully we can take that into the season.”
Katie Wagner (Knoxville, Ky./Hardin Valley Academy) and Lauren Robeck (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield North) paced the Spartan offense recording eight kills each. Robeck led the team with a .357 hitting percentage on 14 attacks. Allison Penner (Aurora, Neb./Aurora) tallied a team-high 32 assists and recorded five digs. Christina Gregory (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) solidified the back row, tallying 16 digs in the set. Grace Howell (Rockwall, Texas/Rockwall-Heath) added seven digs and freshman Holly Behrends (Oswego, Ill./Oswego) added five digs and five kills.
Wake Forest jumped out to an early lead in the first set. The Demon Deacons used an 8-1 run to take a 10-3 lead. After an Ashley Muench (Hurdle Mills, N.C./Orange) kill, Wake Forest scored four of the next five points to take a 14-5 lead, forcing UNCG to take its second timeout. The Demon Deacons were able to hold off a Spartan rally, leading by as many as 14 before taking the first set, 25-11.
UNCG was unable to come away with the win in the second set. After being knotted at seven, Wake Forest scored four of the next five points to gain a 12-8 advantage. After battling for points, Wake Forest again scored three-straight, forcing the UNCG to take a timeout trailing 18-10. Two Wake Forest attack errors and a kill from Wagner cut the lead to six, but the UNCG could come no closer down the stretch, falling 25-17.
The Spartans showed new life coming out of the intermission, hitting at a match best .353 as a team in the third set. UNCG went on a 6-0 run to take a 14-8 lead and forcing Wake Forest to use both of its timeouts. Wake Forest cut the lead down to two after kills from Caroline Rassenfoss and Caitlyn Della, but a ball handing error put the momentum back on the Spartan side of the net. Kills from Robeck, Behrends and Moran kept the Demon Deacons at bay as the teams exchanged points. Wake Forest cut the lead to 22-20 following a Rassenfoss kill, but a kill from Robeck, a Wake Forest attack error and Behrends’ third kill of the set put UNCG on the board.
UNCG was unable to keep the momentum going in the fourth set. Up 10-9, Wake Forest scored five of the next six points to take a 15-10 lead. A Wagner kill, a Rebecca Rice (Raleigh, N.C./Leesville Road) block and a Rassenfoss attack error brought UNCG within two, but Wake Forest closed the set and the match out on a 9-2 run to earn the victory.
Spartan volleyball is back in action Tuesday night as it hosts the Charlotte 49ers in Fleming Gymnasium at 7 p.m.
MVP – Kylie Long – Wake Forest
Caroline Wolfe – Wake Forest
Caitlin Della – Wake Forest
Katie Wagner - UNCG
Megan Moran - UNCG
Jasmin Hubbard – Morgan State
Haley Shimon – UMass Lowell