GREENSBORO, N.C. – Spartan volleyball sent its four seniors out in dramatic fashion Saturday night in Fleming Gymnasium. The Spartans scored a 3-2 (19-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22, 17-15) victory over the Wofford Terriers to improve to win their fifth straight and improve to 16-10 and 9-5 in the Southern Conference. Wofford falls to 18-10 and 8-6 in league play and lost back-to-back matches for the first time this season.
“It was really great to get a win at home in front of our tremendous fans.” Head coach Corey Carlin said, “The atmosphere was electric once again, but to earn a win on senior night is always special. I’m really thankful for our senior class and all that they’ve meant to this program. This class has an extra special place in my heart. They came in as freshmen when I was hired here and we’ve been through four years together.”
“I wasn’t pleased with how we came out and started the match.” Carlin continued, “Credit our girls for refocusing quickly and putting the pressure back on Wofford. It was a really gutsy performance; we showed a lot of grit in tonight’s match. We had good performances from several individuals; we’re a very balanced team. We want to be playing our best volleyball down the stretch, so having the longest current win streak in the league is really fruit that’s born out of the work we’ve been putting in in practice and how hungry this team still is to finish this season on a high note. I think our best volleyball is still in front of us and I’m excited to see how we finish the season.”
Three Spartans earned double digit kills to pace the Spartan offense. Maria Esch (Williamsburg, Va./Jamestown) came on in the second set and scored 14 kills to tie with senior Ashley Muench (Hurdle Mills, N.C./Orange) for the team’s best. Mikaela Weidmann (Roswell, Ga./Centennial) added 10 kills; with senior Katie Wagner (Knoxville, Tenn./Hardin Valley Academy) earning a career-best nine kills in the victory.
Allison Penner notched another doubled double as she went for 52 assists and added 14 digs. Christina Gregory (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) led the team with 24 digs, and Muench chipped in 17. Anna Romaniszyn (Port Orange, Fla./Spruce Creek) added nine digs in the match.
Wofford got on the board first as they got the lead early and didn’t let up. The Spartans were able to tie the set up four times, with the latest coming at 12-12 following an Emily Keilen (Austin, Texas/Round Rock) kill. After going on a 8-3 run to go up 20-15, the Terriers continued to hold off UNCG as a Catie Cronister kill gave Wofford the early 1-0 lead on her eighth kill.
The Spartans rebounded in the following set to knot the match up at intermission. After being tied at 15, UNCG took advantage of a pair of Wofford attack errors before a Muench kill and a big time block from Weidmann and Wagner gave the Spartans a three-point lead. Wofford was able to cut the lead down to one following a Bijonae Jones kill, but Esch provided the Spartan offense with a spark as she scored three-straight kills to give UNCG the set.
Wofford gained the early advantage after the intermission. With UNCG trailing 22-20, UNCG was able to tie up at 22 before Wofford called a timeout. After a Wofford block and a Jones kill put Wofford at set point, Wagner prolonged the set with a kill before a Spartan attack error gave Wofford the 2-1 lead.
The Spartans controlled the final two sets as Wofford didn’t hold a lead in either. In the fourth set, UNCG and Wofford were tied 2-2 before the Blue and Gold used a 9-0 run to take a commanding 11-2 lead. Wofford battled, cutting the lead down to two at 23-21, but the Spartans held the Terriers off as a Muench kill forced set point, and Holly Behrends (Oswego, Ill./Oswego) finished the set with her fifth kill of the set.
The final set was a battle, but Wofford could never over come the Spartans’ four-point lead. UNCG used a 3-0 run to take a 9-5 lead following a block from Weidmann and Muench. Wofford slowed the Spartans and tied the match at 14 and 15 before the Spartan block closed the match. Penner and senior Annchara Montgomery (Indianapolis, Ind./Illinois State) combined to stuff Cronister and Montgomery alone took care of business at match point, halting a Riley Coonan attack to give the Spartans the match.
UNCG is back in action this Wednesday as it hosts Western Carolina at 7 p.m. inside Fleming Gymnasium for the final home match of the 2017 season.