Volleyball Stuffs Morgan State In Charlotte Invitational Finale
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The UNCG volleyball team racked up 12 blocks for the second consecutive match Saturday on the way to a 3-1 (25-21, 25-19, 18-25, 25-19) victory over Morgan State in the Spartans’ final match of the Charlotte Invitational at Halton Arena.
UNCG went 2-1 in the tournament, marking the third-straight season in which the Spartans have ended their opening weekend with a winning record. UNCG also finished the five-team tourney in second place.
The Spartans continued their historical dominance over teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), upping their record to 40-2 against the conference and improving to a perfect 4-0 versus Morgan State.
The Blue and Gold was led offensively by all-tournament honoree and sophomore outside hitter Jessica Brezwyn (Darien, Ill./Hinsdale South) who tallied a match-high 14 kills. Senior middle hitter Kelsey Sidney (Chesterfield, Mo./Marquette HS) added nine kills while classmate and fellow middle Vicky Harley (Blythewood, S.C./Blythewood) chipped in with eight.
Defensively, junior libero Katherine Santiago (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Colegio Adianez) racked up 17 digs to end the weekend with 55 in the 10 sets she played. Sophomore setter Sara Hohman (Zionsville, Ind./Cathedral) posted 11 digs and dished out 34 assists for her first double-double of the season. She also registered three block assists and three aces. With 104 assists over the weekend, Hohman needs just 100 more to reach 1,000 for her young career.
The Bears (1-3) had the better of the hitting percentage, .171 to .165, but the Spartans (2-1) tallied more digs (53-50), more blocks (12.0-6.0) and sided out at a better percentage (60-45).
An early ace saw Morgan State jump out to a 5-2 lead in the first set before UNCG tied it up at six after a kill by Brezwyn. The Blue and Gold was forced to call timeout when the Bears pushed in front 13-11. The short break proved useful as UNCG scored 10 of the next 11 points to take a 19-14 advantage and prompted a timeout from the MSU bench. The Spartans pushed their edge all the way to 23-17 before closing out the set 25-21.
UNCG forced an early Morgan State timeout in the second set when a kill by Brezwyn put the Spartans ahead 9-5. The Bears were able to recover and pull within 13-12 before eventually taking a 15-13 edge thanks to a Sidney ball-handling error. Another big run by UNCG in which it scored eight of the nine points gave the Spartans some breathing room at 23-17. The Blue and Gold reached set point at 24-18 and a Brezwyn kill sealed it 25-19.
With the score deadlocked at nine in the third frame, MSU scored six of the next nine points to pull ahead 15-12 and force a UNCG timeout. The Spartans could only muster six more points in the stanza as the Bears took it 25-18 and forced a fourth set.
The Blue and Gold raced out to an 8-2 cushion in the fourth frame thanks to a couple aces and a number of Morgan State errors but the Bears rallied all the way back and put together a 10-3 run to move into the lead by a point. A kill by Sidney tied the proceedings at 13 and UNCG would capture four of the next six rallies to re-establish a two-point edge. Morgan State called for timeout at that point but it proved futile as a Spartan block capped a 10-3 Spartan run which put the match out of reach. The Blue and Gold would go on to win the fourth set 25-19 and, subsequently, the match.
UNCG returns to action next weekend (Sept. 5-6), traveling to Lynchburg, Va., for the Liberty Flames Invitational. The Spartans will take on USC Upstate, Howard and host Liberty in the two-day event at the Vines Center.