Volleyball Knocks Off North Florida, 3-1
ATHENS, Ga. – After an uncharacteristic performance Friday night, the UNCG volleyball team came out Saturday and downed North Florida 3-1 (18-25, 26-24, 25-21, 25-13) at Stegeman Coliseum. The Spartans improve to 5-3 overall with the win while the Ospreys fall to 3-6.
“Much better effort from us today,” head coach Patrick Nicholas said. “We need to continue working on being consistent and running our offense. I saw some good things in the later sets that I want to see throughout the whole match.”
The Blue and Gold got off to another slow start, hitting just .025 in the first set, but rebounded nicely to hit .200, .216 and .265 in the final three frames to end up at .171. UNCG also outdug UNF 77-60 and held the upper hand in blocking 9.0-8.0.
Senior middle hitter Olivia Humphries (Charlotte, N.C./Myers Park) tallied her third double-double of the season with 12 kills and 11 digs while senior outside hitter Karrian Chambers (College Station, Texas/A&M Consolidated) notched a match-high 14 kills. Chambers made just four errors on 31 attempts to end up with a .323 hitting percentage and Humphries was solid from the service line as she recorded three aces.
Getting in on the blocking was senior middle hitter Morgan Freeman (Virginia Beach, Va./University of Connecticut) who racked up a match-high six blocks. She also terminated 10 balls on 18 swings with just one error to hit .500 for the match. Additionally, junior setter Emily McMurtrey (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Westminster Academy) dished out 34 assists to go along with eight digs.
North Florida got off to a hot start in the match, scoring the first five points and forcing UNCG to call for an early timeout. The Spartans made it 8-4 on a kill by junior middle hitter Kelsey Sidney (Chesterfield, Mo./Marquette HS), but the Ospreys took control of the set back with an 8-3 run to make it 16-7. A service error by UNF allowed the Spartans to pull within 22-18 late, but North Florida scored the final three points of the set to capture the stanza 25-18.
A pair of kills and a pair of Osprey attacking errors gave the Blue and Gold a 4-1 lead in the second frame before a miscue by Carina Hoff extended the UNCG cushion to 8-4. North Florida fought back though by scoring five of the next six points to deadlock the score at nine apiece.
The teams traded points for the next several rallies, ending up tied at 16 when Hoff tallied a kill, but the Ospreys started to make mistakes and the Spartans took advantage – scoring the next four points to take a 20-16 lead. UNCG reached set point at 24-20, but UNF dug down and was able to put together a 4-0 run to knot the score once again. The Spartans’ seniors came through in crunch time, however, as Humphries and Freeman tipped the ball down on North Florida’s side of the net for two-straight kills - clinching a 26-24 set two win for the Blue and Gold.
It was a fast start for UNCG in the third stanza as the Spartans took an early 7-3 lead. With the score at 9-5 after a kill by Anna Budinska, two kills by Humphries extended the UNCG lead to 11-5. North Florida did not fold, netting five-straight scores to pull within 11-10, but a quick 4-1 run helped the Spartans regain control at 15-11.
As it turns out, it was a fight to the finish in the third frame as the Blue and Gold had leads of 19-18, 20-19 and 21-20 before a service error by the Ospreys let UNCG edge in front 22-20. That would be enough for the Spartans as they netted three of the last four points and ended the set with two stuff blocks to make the final score 25-21.
It was all UNCG in the fourth frame as the Blue and Gold built a 7-2 cushion thanks in part to a pair of aces by Humphries. North Florida tried to make it interesting, pulling to within 9-7 on a service error by Freeman, but the Spartans asserted themselves and put together an 8-1 run to move in front 17-10. UNCG allowed its opponent just three more points in the match to take the fourth set 25-13 and match 3-1.
The Spartans return to the court this evening, taking on host Georgia at 7 p.m. inside Stegeman Coliseum.