CULLOWHEE, N.C. – No. 3 seed UNCG volleyball (19-11) fell to No. 2 seed ETSU (18-11) 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-22) in the semifinals of the Southern Conference Tournament on Saturday evening at the Ramsey Center. Senior outside hitter Ashley Muench (Hurdle Mills, N.C./Orange) recorded 11 digs in addition to a match-high 13 kills to become the sixth-ever member of UNCG's 1,000 dig, 1,00-kill club (1,000 and 1,535) and is just one of 27 in the country to accomplish the feat.
"Tonight was a tough match for us," said UNCG head coach Corey Carlin. "Obviously ETSU is a very good program and well coached. We knew they were going to be a formidable opponent. I'm very disappointed in the level of play and execution because it wasn't where it needed to be tonight. We are taking strides as a program and continue to reach new milestones. We still have an opportunity for postseason play so we need to regroup quickly."
"Ashley has been a very consistent producer for this program for four years," said Carlin. "Her stats and accolades certainly reflect that. She always goes hard in practices and matches. Reaching this new achievement is another testament to the type of competitor she is. We're so proud in what she's been able to do for us."
Junior setter Allison Penner (Aurora, Neb./Aurora) moved to fourth all-time in school history in career assists (3,470) with 28, passing Ari Lysacek's (2009-12) 3,457. With 1,219 assists on the year, she moves to seventh in all-time assists by a Spartan in a season ahead of Sara Hohman's 1,216 in 2014. She also contributed 10 digs and six kills at a .250 average.
Junior defensive specialist Christina Gregory (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) finished with a match-high 24 digs and also had four assists. Senior defensive specialist Anna Romaniszyn (Port Orange, Fla./Spruce Creek) had 12 digs, and sophomore defensive specialist Grace Howell (Rockwall, Texas/Rockwall-Health) had 10 digs.
Sophomore outside hitter Emily Keilen (Austin, Texas/Round Rock) had seven kills, hitting at a .225 average. Redshirt senior middle hitter Annchara Montgomery (Indianapolis, Ind./Illinois State) registered four kills.
The first set went back and forth between UNCG and ETSU as both teams didn't possess more than a two-point lead halfway through the set. The Buccaneers pulled away with a 6-0 run to take a 17-12 lead and then ended the set with three-straight points.
ETSU claimed four of the first five points to begin the second set and then pushed its lead to 10-4 with a 6-1 run. UNCG cut the deficit down to three by winning the next three points with a pair of Muench kills and an ETSU attacking error. That would be the closest the Spartans would come in the set as the Bucs used a 5-1 run to push its lead to 19-12 and then won six of the last seven points to win the set.
After the intermission ETSU once again used an early run to stake a lead in the third set it would never give up. The Bucs went on a 6-2 run to go ahead 8-4, but the Spartans got the next three points on three straight kills by Montgomery, Muench and Penner. ETSU responded by claiming the following four points, but UNCG slimmed the deficit back down to two points (19-17) with a 5-2 run. The Spartans' near the end of set made it 23-22, but the Bucs closed out the match by winning the final two points.
-- UNCG --