CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – UNCG volleyball (3-3) split a pair of matches to end the Carolina Classic Saturday at Carmichael Arena, beating Maryland Eastern Shore (0-6) 3-0 (25-16 25-12, 25-21) and losing to Michigan State (4-1) 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-17). Christina Gregory was named to the all-tournament team after collecting 39 digs, 12 assists and four service aces.
“Our team played much better this afternoon," said head coach Corey Carlin. "We made a few changes to what we normally do and I’m proud of how these young women responded. Quality teams have to be able to make adjustments to game plans, line-ups or tactics while not sacrificing their energy and focus. And we took a significant step forward today in that regard. There were definitely a lot of positive things to build on from this weekend and our best volleyball is still ahead of us.”
After UNCG and Maryland Eastern Shore traded points to start the first set, the Spartans went on a 5-1 run to grab an 18-14 lead. After the set became tied up, UNCG went on a 5-0 run to end the set on a pair of attacking errors and kills by Maria Esch, Mikaela Weidmann and Anne Schölzel.
The Spartans had their biggest margin of victory in a set this season in the second. A pair of 4-0 runs helped UNCG gain a 12-7 run. The Spartans ended the set by winning 12 of the last 16 points. Lauren Robeck and Holly Behrends both had three kills and Esch had two during the run.
In the final set UNCG trailed early 7-4 but retook the lead with a 6-1 run. The set was tied at 19-19, but UNCG ended the match with a 6-2 run.
The team finished with 49 kills at a .356 hitting percentage, and five Spartans had at least five kills and a .350 hitting percentage. Behrends (.444) led the way with 14 kills, and Esch (.444) also had 11. Weidman (.600) got seven kills, and Robeck (.364) and Rebecca Rice (.400) both had five.
UNCG claimed the first three points to start the first set in the first match of the day, but Michigan State then went on a 9-2 run. UNCG was able to get back within one point, but Michigan State responded with another long run (9-1) to get its biggest lead at 18-9 and ended the set by winning four of the last five points.
Once again UNCG jumped out an early lead in the second set at 5-3 with Michigan State and eventually built a 12-8 advantage on a 5-0 run on three Michigan State errors, a kill by Rice and service ace by Howell. Michigan State took the lead for good by winning the next seven points and closed out the set with a 6-1 run.
Michigan State never trailed in the final set. After winning the first three points, its lead grew to a 10-6 advantage. After UNCG cut its deficit to 16-14, Michigan State ran away with the set on an 8-0 run.
UNCG finished with just a .107 hitting percentage with 20 attacking errors while Michigan State committed only 13 errors with a .323 hitting percentage.
“Michigan State may be the physically biggest team we play this year so we knew coming in that we would have to be aware of their net presence & respond accordingly," said Carlin. "Throughout the match we had moments of really good volleyball but it was difficult for us to have any significant strings of positive plays. Too often our good plays were followed by an error or missed assignment, and that makes it difficult to win no matter who you’re playing.”
Behrends led UNCG with 10 kills at a .214 average, and Emily Keilen finished with eight kills.
Penner collected 15 assists, and Rasmussen had nine assists.
Gregory notched a team-high 10 digs, and Behrends and Penner both had six.
UNCG will head to Duke next Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. for a road non-conference matchup.
-- UNCG –