GREENSBORO, N.C. – Five Spartans earned double-digit kills as UNCG earned a 3-2 (28-26, 23-25, 20-25, 25-20, 18-16) victory over the Chattanooga Mocs Saturday evening inside Fleming Gymnasium. Emily Keilen led the offense with a career-best 14 kills in the victory. The Spartans improve to 12-10 on the season and 5-5 in the Southern Conference. Chattanooga falls to 12-12 and 5-5 in the SoCon.
“I’m so proud of our team and the performance we had.” Head coach Corey Carlin said, “This was truly a team win. We knew Chattanooga was a quality opponent and that they would come in very aggressive and show a lot of fight and grit. We matched that; the comeback in set one was especially impressive. To be down the way we were, to battle back and finish the set was really huge.”
“I’m very proud of our girls. ETSU and Chattanooga are two very talented, very well coached teams. They’re both experienced teams that have either won the conference or been in the conference finals each of the last two seasons. We knew this weekend was important so its very positive to see our team grow and continue to improve. I think we’re trending in the right direction; our best volleyball is still ahead of us. I’m excited to see what this team can do as we finish the regular season and head into the post season.”
Led by Keilen, the Spartans used a balanced attack to continue to score points against a tough Chattanooga defense. Annchara Montgomery (Indianapolis, Ind./Illinois State) and Holly Behrends (Oswego, Ill./Oswego) added 13 kills apiece, with Mikaela Weidmann (Roswell, Ga./Centennial) and Maria Esch (Williamsburg, Va./Jamestown) adding 11 and 10 kills, respectively.
Allison Penner recorded a match-best 57 assists and earned her 11th double-double with 11 digs. The Spartan backline also had five players in double figures, led by Christina Gregory’s (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) 20. Grace Howell (Rockwall, Texas/Rockwall-Heath) added 15, and senior Anna Romaniszyn (Port Orange, Fla./Spruce Creek) chipped in 13. Behrends added 11 digs to earn the first double-double of her career.
After trailing 22-12 in the first set, the Spartans used a 13-2 run to take its first lead of the set at 25-24. The Spartans forced set point three times before back-to-back kills from Behrends gave the Spartans the set and the early 1-0 lead.
The Mocs were able to even the match in the second set, keeping pace with UNCG throughout before scoring the final two points to take the set. With nine ties in the set, the latest occurred when both teams were knotted at 23. Chattanooga blocked a Spartan attack to force set point. UNCG followed with an attack that landed out of bounds to give tie the match back up at 1-1.
UNCG led throughout the first half of the third set, leading by as many as five. With UNCG up 16-12, Chattanooga went on a 9-0 run to take a commanding 21-16 lead. The Mocs withstood several Spartan attacks down the stretch before an Ally Ford kill and a Spartan attack error finished off the set to take the 2-1 lead.
The fourth set was another tight one with nine ties and seven lead changes. Chattanooga went up early, racing out to an 11-6 lead. UNCG scored the next six points to tie the set up at 12 each. With ties at 13, 14, 17 and 18 before the Spartans could separate themselves. UNCG closed the match out on a 5-2 run, getting a pair of kills from Ashley Muench (Hurdle Mills, N.C./Orange) and Montgomery to force the final set.
Montgomery tallied four of UNCG’s 12 kills in the final set to help the Spartans take the match. In the final set, each team its largest lead at two points. Chattanooga earned its two-point lead at 12-10 before UNCG scored four of the next five to take a lead at 14-13. Chattanooga’s Ally Ford and UNCG’s Montgomery traded kills before a Spartan attack error tied the set at 16. Keilen recorded a kill to force another Spartan match point before Penner and Montgomery stuffed a Moc attack to give the Spartans the victory.
UNCG returns to the court next Friday in Birmingham, Alabama as it is set to face the Samford Bulldogs in the Pete Hanna Center.