MACON, Ga. – Spartan volleyball used a balanced and effective offensive attack to earn a 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-19) sweep over the Mercer Bears inside Hawkins Arena Saturday evening. The Spartans had five of its eight players earn more than five kills as the team hit at a .259 average. UNCG improves to 14-10 overall and 7-5 in the Southern Conference. The Spartans have now won three-straight matches. Mercer falls to 8-17 and 2-10 in SoCon play.
“I’m proud of the way we started the match this afternoon.” Head coach Corey Carlin said, “It was a very good team effort. Our main goal was to come out strong from the first point and we did that. This team has proven we can play at a very high level when our mental preparation is there and it was great to see us play at that high level for the majority of the match. Its definitely a strong performance we can build on heading into next week as we continue to work and polish our game.”
Ashley Muench (Hurdle Mills, N.C./Orange) earned a team-high 12 kills on 33 attacks. Senior middle hitter Annchara Montgomery (Indianapolis, Ind./Illinois State) added nine kills on 13 attacks, with Mikaela Weidmann (Roswell, Ga./Centennial) scoring eight kills. Sophomore outside hitter Emily Keilen (Austin, Texas/Round Rock) added eight, with freshman Holly Behrends (Oswego, Ill./Oswego) connecting for six kills.
Allison Penner (Aurora, Neb./Aurora) dished out 40 assists in the match while adding two kills of her own. The 40 assists in a three-set match is her second-best total in her career. Christina Gregory (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) led all competitors with 15 digs, while Muench added 13 in the contest.
With UNCG leading by one, the Bears went on a 6-1 run to take their largest lead of the first set at 15-11. The Spartans used a rally of their own, getting kills form Montgomery and Muench before Muench and Weidmann stopped a Bear attack to give the Spartans the slight 19-18 lead. The teams traded points, getting knotted at 23 before a Behrends kill and Penner and Montgomery stuffed a Paige Alston attack to take the set.
With UNCG leading 16-14 in the second set, the Spartans used a 4-0 run, capped by a Penner service ace to take a six-point lead at 20-14. Mercer rallied late, using a 6-1 run to cut the lead down to just one at 24-23. On the fifth Spartan set point, Mercer’s Amber Gibson’s serve went into the net giving the Spartans the second set and the 2-0 lead.
In the third set, the Spartans took a lead early at 7-6 following a Keilen service ace and never looked back. UNCG didn’t trail the rest of the way as it extended its lead to as many as five after a Morgan MacGilvary attack error. The teams exchanged points before UNCG got another service ace, this from Weidmann before a Mercer had an attack error at match point.
The Spartans are back in action next Friday as they return home to Fleming Gymnasium to take on the current league-leading Furman Paladins at 7 p.m.