CHARLESTON, S.C. – Redshirt senior Annchara Montgomery (Indianapolis, Ind./Illinois State) came up big down the stretch as she helped lead UNCG to a 3-2 (25-18, 23-25, 19-25, 25-22, 15-11) victory at The Citadel Saturday afternoon. Montgomery scored 11 kills and stuffed three attacks in the final two sets to give UNCG the win. The Spartans improve to 18-10 overall and finish 11-5 in Southern Conference play for the fourth-straight season. The Citadel falls to 8-25 and 2-14 in SoCon play.
With the win in the final regular season contest, the Spartans will enter next week’s Southern Conference Tournament as the three seed. They will matchup with Chattanooga in the first round of the tournament which will be played at 7:30 p.m. in the Ramsey Center in Cullowhee, N.C. next Friday.
After the victory, this year’s senior class has now won the more regular season Southern Conference matches than any other class before it. Montgomery, Katie Wagner (Knoxville, Tennessee), Anna Romaniszyn (Port Orange, Fla./Spruce Creek) and Ashley Muench (Hurdle Mills, N.C./Orange) combined to win 44-20 SoCon matches in their careers.
UNCG’s middle hitters had a big day in Charleston. Montgomery set a new career-best with 17 kills, hitting at a .406 average in the match. Sophomore middle hitter Lauren Robeck (Plainfield, Ill./North Plainfield) scored a season-high 11 kills in the match.
Allison Penner (Aurora, Neb./Aurora) finished with 45 assists in the match and added nine digs.
Christina Gregory (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) led the Spartan defense with 24 digs. Holly Behrends (Oswego, Ill./Oswego) added a career-best 21 digs, with Anna Romaniszyn (Port Orange, Fla./Spruce Creek) adding 15.
After being tied at eight in the first set, UNCG got separation after going on a 7-0 run. Montgomery, Penner and Ashley Muench (Hurdle Mills, N.C./Orange) all contributed kills in the run. The Citadel cut the lead down to four at 21-17 after Zuri Fenderson connected on a kill, but UNCG closed the set on a 4-1 run with UNCG taking advantage of a Bulldogs set error to take the set.
UNCG pulled away temporarily in the second set, using a 3-0 run to take its largest lead at 21-18 after an Emily Keilen (Austin, Texas/Round Rock) block. The Bulldogs battled back to tie the set up at 23 before a Spartan attack error pushed it to set point. Bulldog senior Moriah Smith put the set away with a kill to tie the match at one.
The Citadel was able to take a lead in following the intermission. With the Bulldogs up 12-10, The Citadel went on a 5-0 run to take a commanding 17-10 lead over the Spartans. UNCG rallied to cut the lead down to three at 21-18 after a Robeck and Maria Esch (Williamsburg, Va./Jamestown) block. After the teams traded service errors, the Bulldogs scored the sets final three points and a Fenderson kill gave The Citadel the 2-1 lead.
UNCG had to dig themselves out of a hole late to force the fifth set. Trailing 21-18,the Spartans closed the set on a 7-1 run. Montgomery came alive in the run, scoring four kills and pairing with Penner to stuff a Bulldog attack. Penner and Montgomery teamed up again as Montgomery found space on The Citadel side of the net for another kill to tie the match up at 2-2.
The final set saw UNCG gain separation late. Leading 9-8, UNCG scored back-to-back points to go up 11-9. The Citadel called a timeout, but the Spartans continued their final push. UNCG doubled up The Citadel down the stretch, getting kills from Montgomery and Esch, and a block from Penner and Robeck. Esch finished the match with a tip at the net that fell between the Bulldog defenders to give UNCG the win.
The Spartans are back in action Friday, November 17th in the Southern Conference Tournament in Cullowhee, N.C.