GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG volleyball team ended the Spartan-Aggie Invitational Saturday night with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-19) sweep of Alabama State inside Fleming Gymnasium. With the victory, the Spartans improve to 4-2 overall while the Hornets fall to 1-6.
"I am happy with how we played in the match," head coach Patrick Nicholas said. "I am finally seeing us starting to be more consistent and our younger players developing and giving us some depth. We still have some tough matches ahead so there is a lot of work to do."
The Blue and Gold hit over .300 as a team for the second-straight match, tallying 46 kills on 91 attempts with just 17 errors to finish at .319. The Spartans also won the battle defensively with 36 digs as compared to 26 for Alabama State. Additionally, UNCG added six more aces to bring its season total to 41 (1.86 per set) and out-blocked the Hornets 10.0-8.0.
Sideout percentage was key again as the Spartans limited the Hornets to 49 percent while siding out at 66 percent themselves.
Senior middle hitter Olivia Humphries (Charlotte, N.C./Myers Park) paced the offense with 10 kills on 18 attempts while making just one error to hit .500 in the match. She was just one UNCG player to play low-error volleyball as junior middle hitter Vicky Harley (Blythewood, S.C./Blythewood) put down seven kills on her way to a .308 showing and seven blocks. Junior middle hitter Kelsey Sidney (Chesterfield, Mo./Marquette HS) made no errors in coming off the bench, pounding down four kills on five swings for a mark of .800.
Having been voted libero of the tournament, sophomore Katherine Santiago (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Colegio Adianez) racked up double-digit digs for the third-straight match with 11 – ending the weekend with a total of 54 (4.90 per set).
Freshman setter Sara Hohman (Zionsville, Ind./Cathedral) continued to gain valuable playing experience and took advantage of it in this match, dishing out 31 assists to finish with just over 10 helpers per set. She also tallied three aces and five digs.
Alabama State jumped out to a 3-0 lead in set one before UNCG recovered to tie the frame at six on a kill by Harley. The Spartans kept the pressure on, scoring four of the next five points to push in front 10-7 and force a Hornet timeout. ASU was able to draw within 11-10 when Humphries committed as service error, but two aces by freshman outside hitter Jessica Brezwyn (Darien, Ill./Hinsdale South) spurred on a 4-0 UNCG run and gave the home team a 15-10 cushion.
The Spartans extended their lead to 20-13 on a block by Humphries and Harley and would roll the rest of the way, shutting down Alabama State and winning the stanza by a 25-19 score.
Hohman served up two aces in the beginning of the second set to help the Blue and Gold establish a 5-1 lead. The Hornets attempted to rally, pulling within 10-7 when Myla Marshall put down a kill. However, a devastating 7-3 run took the drama out of the frame as UNCG led 17-10 and eventually took the set 25-18.
The third stanza proved to be quite competitive from the outset as ASU scored the first three points before UNCG answered with a 3-0 run of its own. A solo block by senior outside hitter Karrian Chambers (College Station, Texas/A&M Consolidated) made it 6-4 in favor of the Spartans, forcing a timeout by Alabama State, but the Hornets were able to pull within 9-8 on a kill by Marshall.
The middle of the set started to swing in ASU's favor as the Hornets went on a 6-3 run to take a 14-12 advantage – forcing the Blue and Gold to call for timeout. UNCG quickly tied the score at 14 on a kill by Harley and a block by Harley and Humphries, but Amber Bennett put down a kill to give Alabama State the lead again.
The set was tied at 17 a few points later, but the Spartans finally wrested control of the frame away from the visitors, scoring five points in a row to essentially end it. A kill by redshirt sophomore middle hitter Julia Westerbur (College Station, Texas/SMU) gave UNCG match point at 24-19 before Marshall committed an attacking error to end the match.
The Spartans hit the road next weekend (Sept. 13-14), traveling to the University of Georgia for the Benson's Hospitality Group Invitational. The Blue and Gold will face Louisiana, North Florida and the host Bulldogs at Stegeman Coliseum during the round-robin event.
Follow the fastest game on campus all season long by logging on to www.uncgspartans.com and following the Spartans' official Twitter feeds @uncgsports/@uncgvb. Fans can also access in-game updates by following @uncgscores.
Spartan-Aggie Invitational All-Tournament Team
Taylor Olden – Murray State
Sam Bedard – Murray State
Karrian Chambers – UNCG
Vicky Harley – UNCG
Aleena McDaniel – North Carolina A&T
Tiana Kelley – Alabama State
MVP – Alyssa Lelm – Murray State
Top Libero – Katherine Santiago - UNCG