GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG volleyball defeated the Furman Paladins in four sets Friday night behind a strong performance from freshman outside hitter Holly Behrends (Oswego, Ill./Oswego). Behrends set a new career best with 21 kills and tallied her second double double of the season with 12 digs. With the win, UNCG has won four-straight matches to improve to 15-10 overall and 8-5 in Southern Conference play. Furman falls to 17-9, and 11-2 in league action.
“I’m really proud of our effort tonight.” Head coach Corey Carlin said, “Furman, as we know, is a stiff challenge. They’re well coached and a very good team. They’re in first place for a reason. I’m proud of the way we started the match. We came out with great focus and we played our side of the net very well, our execution was very high. We had great contributions from several individuals. We’ve talked about momentum going into the postseason with these last four matches. There’s so much good volleyball still in front of us, I don’t think we’ve played out best volleyball yet. This was a great step forward in that regard.”
Behrends led the Spartan offense, setting a new career-best with 21 kills. The freshman hit at a .400 average in the set. She tallied the second double double of her career as she chipped in 12 digs. Senior outside hitter Ashley Muench (Hurdle Mills, N.C./Orange) tallied a big night as well, going for 17 kills. A a team, the Spartans hit at a.230 clip.
Allison Penner (Aurora, Neb./Aurora) was another key contributor for the offense as she dished out 54 assists and added 10 digs. Penner also recorded five kills and three aces in the match. Christina Gregory (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) led all competitors with 23 digs. Muench added 14 digs and two aces in the match.
UNCG pulled away after being up 14-13 in the first set. The Spartans got a kill from Muench before Penner tallied back-to-back services aces to give the Spartans a 17-13 advantage. The Spartans gained their largest lead of the set at 21-16 after a Penner kill. The Spartans and Paladins were back and forth the rest of the way before Mikaela Weidmann (Roswell, Ga./Centennial) put the set away on her third kill.
Furman bounced back in the second set to even the match. After going up 11-8, Furman maintained its advantage until UNCG tied it up at 18 after a Behrends kill. UNCG couldn’t solve the Paladin puzzle as Furman scored the final seven points down the stretch to even it up at one set each.
Coming out of the intermission, the third set was played evenly as it featured 14 ties. After being knotted at 19 all, UNCG went on a 6-2 run down the stretch to gain the advantage. Behrends contributed two kills, Annchara Montgomery (Indianapolis, Ind./Illinois State) added another and Weidmann tallied a service ace in the run. UNCG scored 17 kills in the set, Behrends scored seven kills and Muench added six in the set.
In the fourth set, Furman gained an advantage late, going up 18-16 after a Christen Sikora kill. UNCG scored three straight to take the lead at 19-18 before Furman tied the set back up at 22. Coming out of a Spartan timeout, UNCG scored the final three points of the match as Weidmann and Penner stuffed two Paladin attacks to take the set and the match.
The Spartans are back in action tomorrow night at 7 p.m. as they host the Wofford Terriers for senior night. UNCG’s four seniors will be honored in a ceremony prior to the start of tomorrow’s match.