GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG volleyball survived a five-set match with the Western Carolina Catamounts to close out 2017 home schedule Wednesday night in Fleming Gym. With the 3-2 (17-25, 25-17, 16-25, 25-17, 16-14) victory, the Spartans close the season 12-6 in at home. UNCG improves to 17-10 on the season and 10-5 in Southern Conference play. Western Carolina falls to 10-18 and 5-10 in league play.
“Obviously its good to get a win in your final home match.” Head coach Corey Carlin said, “We still have work to do to polish our game and be at the level we want to be at heading into the postseason. I was disappointed in how we started the match, but credit Western Carolina for capitalizing on some slow play and really coming out aggressive.”
“Once we refocused I felt like our level of play was raised and we were able to play to the level that we are accustomed to.” Carlin continued, “That’ll be a challenge going forward for our team, to be better prepared mentally and better focus to start matches. We’ll need that heading into the postseason and that’ll be a focus for us moving forward.”
The Spartan defense helped bail out its struggling offense Wednesday night. UNCG racked up a season-high 97 digs, led by Christina Gregory’s (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) 30. Junior Allison Penner (Aurora, Neb./Aurora) notched a double double as she tallied a season-high 20 digs, to go with 46 assists.
Muench led the offense with 17 kills on 60 attempts. Behrends scored 12 kills and Lauren Robeck (Plainfield, Ill./North Plainfield) added a season-best 11 kills in the win.
Western Carolina pulled away in the fist set, using a 4-0 run to push its lead to seven following a Katie O’Connor kill at 20-13. UNCG cut the lead down to five at 22-17, but three-straight Spartan attack errors gave the Catamounts the first set.
UNCG recovered to tie the match up in the second set by an identical score. After being tied at six, the Spartans went on a 7-0 run, capped by an Emily Keilen (Austin, Texas/Round Rock) kill. Western Carolina cut the lead down to four at 15-11, but UNCG ran its lead back out to six following Penner’s first kill of the set. UNCG and WCU traded points down the stretch until Penner was able to find space against the Catamount defense for her second kill of the set at set point.
The Spartans came out of the intermission uncharacteristically slow. After going up 3-0, Western Carolina rallied to score eight-straight points and take the lead 8-3. UNCG cut the lead to three but the Catamounts withstood the Spartans’ counterattack. After going on a 3-0 run to go up 21-13, Western Carolina and UNCG traded points before a Makenzie White kill gave WCU the 2-1 lead in the match.
In the face of adversity, UNCG responded to take the fourth set, 25-17. With UNCG leading by one, the Blue and Gold went on a 4-1 run to increase its lead to 13-9. After cutting the lead to 13-10 on an O’Connor kill, Western Carolina could come no closer than three the rest of the way. UNCG closed the set out on an Annchara Montgomery (Indianapolis, Ind./Illinois State) kill.
The final set saw UNCG erase a three-point deficit late. Trailing 13-10, the Spartans closed the set on a 6-1 run. The Blue and Gold cut the lead to 13-12 and carried its momentum through a Catamount timeout to score two more kills and take a lead forcing WCU to call its final timeout. O’Connor tied the match at match point following an O’Connor kill before Behrends and Muench scored back-to-back kills to take the match.
The Spartans return to the court Saturday afternoon in Charleston, S.C. as they take on The Citadel Bulldogs to close out the regular season.