Courtesy: Photo Courtesy of Tim Cowie

TCU Outlasts Volleyball To Win Spartan Spiketacular 09-21-2013

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG volleyball team went toe to toe with Big 12 member TCU Saturday night in the championship game of the Spartan Spiketacular inside Fleming Gymnasium, but the Horned Frogs won out in the end, capturing a 3-1 (34-32, 23-25, 25-18, 25-18) decision to cap the weekend. The Spartans fall to 7-5 overall while TCU improves to 11-3.

“I want to really commend our crowd which came out in full force tonight,” head coach Patrick Nicholas said. “The fans, pep band and spirit squads are always behind us and it makes for a really fun volleyball atmosphere. We did some really good things tonight and all weekend. Heading into conference play, I hope we can continue working to be more consistent and play at a high level for the duration of every match.”

Senior middle hitter Olivia Humphries (Charlotte, N.C./Myers Park) put on a show for the raucous Fleming Gym crowd, racking up 24 kills on 48 attempts while making seven errors to hit .354. Classmate and outside hitter Karrian Chambers (College Station, Texas/A&M Consolidated) put down 18 kills of her own while tallying 18 digs for her third double-double of the campaign.

“I think we turned a corner this weekend,” Humphries said. “I am proud of our team for the effort put forth in all three matches this weekend and we look forward to starting conference play soon in pursuit of a championship.”

Defensively, the Blue and Gold out-dug its counterparts 69-61 and received a match-high 20 digs from sophomore libero Katherine Santiago (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Colegio Adianez). TCU arguably won the match at the net, out-blocking the Spartans 12.0-2.0 while also playing very low-error volleyball with only 11 offensive miscues. The Horned Frogs out-hit UNCG .369-.272 while both squads piled up 69 kills. Junior setter Emily McMurtrey (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Westminster Academy) dished out 46 assists in the four sets and also chipped in with five digs.

“We took what we did in practice this weekend and applied it to the matches” Santiago remarked. “We have to continue being mentally tough and minimize our mistakes. We will be fine if we do that.”

“I think we did a good job of getting off to faster starts this weekend,” Chambers said. “If we keep applying corrections from the coaching staff and believe in ourselves, there is no telling what we can do the rest of the season.”

A pair of kills put UNCG on top in the first set and the Blue and Gold would extend the advantage to 8-3 when Yvonne Igodan hit the ball wide. That would draw a timeout from the Horned Frog sideline. The Spartans kept their lead until TCU eventually caught up at 15 points apiece. The visitors would score two-straight points at that juncture, edging in front 17-15 and prompting a UNCG timeout. An attacking error by Ashley Smith afforded the Spartans a 21-20 lead, but two-straight points gave the momentum back to the Horned Frogs.

Determined to take the upper hand back, UNCG scored three of the next four points as a Humphries kill gave the Spartans their first set point. The teams traded off control of the frame in the late stages as the Blue and Gold had additional set points at 28, 29 and 30. TCU forged a set point at 31-30 with a block, but an attacking error by Stephanie Holland knotted the score once more. After a Humphries service error and a kill by freshman outside hitter Jessica Brezwyn (Darien, Ill./Hinsdale South) made the score 32-32, a kill and a block finally gave the Horned Frogs the set.

TCU took control of the second stanza 12-7, but UNCG pulled to within 15-12 on a Brezwyn kill. After two-straight points extended the Horned Frog lead to five, the Spartans called for timeout. UNCG did not back down, going on a 6-2 run to draw to within 19-18 – forcing a timeout from the visitor bench. TCU would build a 22-20 advantage  on a kill by Smith, but the Blue and Gold would rebound to tie the frame at 23 on a kill by senior middle hitter Morgan Freeman (Virginia Beach, Va./University of Connecticut). The Spartans rode the momentum all the way to the end, putting down two more kills to escape the second stanza as 25-23 victors.

With the match all tied up, UNCG put forth a strong start to the third frame. Leading 10-7 after a kill by Chambers, the Horned Frogs would respond and knot the score at 12 thanks to a kill by Macy Capen. Things went awry for the Spartans with the score deadlocked at 16 as TCU would put the set away with a 5-0 run and eventually win it 25-18.

The Horned Frogs asserted themselves in the fourth set, jumping out to a 12-4 lead and did not look back. They would take advantages of 17-9 and 22-12 before closing the match out 25-18.

For their efforts this weekend, Humphries, Chambers and Santiago were named to the all-tournament team while Santiago earned Top Libero accolades.

UNCG closes out non-conference play Wednesday, Sept. 25, welcoming Triad rival High Point to Fleming Gymnasium. First serve for that contest is set for 7 p.m.

2013 Spartan Spiketacular All-Tournament Team
Yvonne Igodan, TCU - MVP
Macy Capen - TCU
Mattie Burleson - TCU
Olivia Humphries - UNCG
Karrian Chambers - UNCG
Katherine Santiago - UNCG - Top Libero
Tori Price - George Mason
Ashley McCarthy - North Carolina Central



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