CULLOWHEE, N.C. – UNCG volleyball snapped its three-match losing streak in decisive fashion Wednesday night inside the Ramsey Center. The Spartans defeated the Western Carolina Catamounts (25-23, 25-22, 25-14), backed by a match-high 15 kills from senior outside hitter Ashley Muench (Hurdle Mills, N.C./Orange) The Spartans improve to 10-9 and 3-4 in Southern Conference play. Western Carolina falls to 6-15 and 1-6 in SoCon play.
“Tonight was a very good team effort in several phases of the game.” Head coach Corey Carlin said, “We had talked about picking up our intensity on defense coming into the match and we did that. Our defense fuels our offense. When we’re making plays and playing hard in the backcourt, it drives the other facets of our game and creates more opportunities for our offense.”
“We had some good individual performances tonight, but I’m most proud of how our team responded when the score was close or when we were behind.” Carlin continued, “We stayed focused, played good team volleyball to earn points and finished well in all three sets.”
UNCG tallied 43 total kills in the match, hitting at a .180 average. Allison Penner (Aurora, Neb./Aurora) recorded a match-best 33 assists, added three kills and 12 digs.
The Spartans defense had four players earn double-digit digs, with Grace Howell (Rockwall, Texas/Rockwall-Heath) one off that mark. Muench led all competitors with 18, senior Anna Romaniszyn (Port Orange, Fla./Spruce Creek) added 16 and freshman Holly Behrends (Oswego, Ill./Oswego) added 15 to go with Penner’s 12.
The first set was played very close as the largest lead of the set was 5-1 by the Spartans. Western Carolina climbed back into it and took its largest lead of three at 10-7. After that, the two teams remained within two points for the rest of the set. With the match tied at 23, Penner assisted back-to-back kills from Muench and Behrends to give UNCG the first set.
Western Carolina came out quick in the first set, but UNCG would answer all that the Catamounts would throw at it. After trailing 15-10, the Spartans called a timeout and went on a 6-1 run forcing WCU to call its last timeout. The Spartans went down 19-16, but went on a 5-0 run to take the lead at 21-19. Western Carolina cut the lead down to 22-21, but the Spartans scored three of the last four points a kill from Lauren Robeck (Plainfield, Ill./North Plainfield) and Muench’s 14th of the match gave the Spartans the set.
UNCG left no doubt as it decisively took the third set from the Catamounts. After being tied at eight, the Spartans scored five of the next six points to take the lead 13-9. Western Carolina cut the lead down to 13-11 before UNCG rallied to score four of five to push its lead to 17-12. The Catamounts cut the lead down to four at 18-14 but the Spartans scored the final seven points to take the set
UNCG is back in action Friday night as it returns home to host The Citadel Bulldogs at 7 p.m. inside Fleming Gym.