GREENSBORO, N.C. – Spartan volleyball hosts two of the Southern Conference’s top three teams this weekend inside Fleming Gymnasium. UNCG will host the Furman Paladins Friday night and the Wofford Terriers Saturday on senior night. Furman enters the weekend 17-8 and is top in the league with an 11-1 record in the Southern Conference. Wofford is third in the league with an 18-8 record and are 8-4 in league action.
The first 200 students at Friday’s game will receive a free UNCG volleyball t-shirt and all fans can receive a free slice of pizza when entering the game, courtesy of Cottage Inn. Live stats and video will be available for each night. Friday’s game will be on ESPN3, with Kendall Lewis and Brittany Northcutt on the call. Saturday’s senior night match will be streamed on the SoCon Digital Network. The four Spartan seniors will be honored in a pregame ceremony Saturday night.
The Spartans enter this weekend’s competitions having won three-straight matches and five of their last six. During this recent stretch of games, the Spartans have swept three teams and have gone to five sets in the other three. The lone loss was a tough five-set loss to the ETSU Bucs, with the Spartans falling 18-16 in the final set.
UNCG has earned a 12-32 record against the Furman Paladins all-time. Earlier this season, the Spartans suffered a 3-1 loss in Greenville. Last season’s meeting in Greensboro saw the Spartans earn a 3-0 victory over Furman.
Against the Terriers, UNCG holds a dominating 29-10 advantage. The Spartans dropped a five-set match during the trip to Spartanburg in the meeting earlier this season. Last season, UNCG swept the Terriers 3-0 on Homecoming weekend as Ashley Muench (Hurdle Mills, N.C./Orange) and Lauren Robeck (Plainfield, Ill./North Plainfield) tallying 15 and 10 kills, respectively.
Muench leads the offense with 315 kills this season, averaging 3.62 kills per set. She’s hitting at a .245 average this season, the highest percentage of her decorated career. She is currently second all-time at UNCG with 1,447 career kills, trailing Missi Olson’s program record of 1,600.
Allison Penner (Aurora, Neb./Aurora) has been on of the top setters in program history. The junior has recorded at least 1,000 kills in her first two seasons and is currently fifth all-time with 3,204 total assists. This season she averages a league-best 10.48 assists per set and has proven herself in the backcourt. Penner adds 2.56 digs per set along the backline as the Spartan defense averages 16.43 per set.
UNCG’s digs per set average ranks second in the Southern Conference. Christina Gregory (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) leads the Spartan defense with a 4.48 digs per set average this season. Five Spartans average over 2.10 digs per set this season. Muench adds 2.70, Anna Romaniszyn (Port Orange, Fla./Spruce Creek) with 2.63, Penner chips in 2.56 per set and Grace Howell (Rockwall, Texas/Rockwall-Heath) adds another 2.18 digs per set.
The Paladins enter this weekend’s matches with a two-game lead in the Southern Conference standings. After entering the SoCon season 6-7, Furman won 10-straight matches to open the schedule before falling to ETSU last week. Furman has yet to play a five-set match in SoCon play and currently sports an 11-1 league mark.
Jamila Johnson leads the offense with 345 kills, averaging 3.97 per set. Christen Sikora adds 2.82 and Nicole Mack adds 2.31 kills per set. The Paladin offense is second in the league behind UNCG, sporting a 12.98 kills per set average.
Hunter Thompson facilitates the offense as she averages 9.53 assists per set this season. She chips in 0.85 kills per set and holds her own in the backcourt with a 3.00 digs per set average.
Furman’s defense ranks third in the league, just behind UNCG with 16.25 digs per set this season. Meg DeMaar leads the team with a 4.28 digs per set average. During the matchup in Greenville, DeMaar dug out 25 Spartan attacks, her second-best total of the season. Johnson adds 3.20 digs per set to pair with Thompson’s per set average.
Wofford has won three-straight and four of its last five matches. Earlier this week, the Terriers notched a 3-1 victory over The Citadel Bulldogs, in Charleston, S.C. The Terriers currently sit in third place in the league standings with an 8-4 SoCon record and an 18-8 overall record.
Catie Cronister leads the league and is 16th in the country with a 4.43 kills per set average. Cronister has tallied 421 kills this season as she has started and played in all 26 matches. She has scored 51 service aces this season, averaging 0.54 per set and ranking sixth in the country in that category. Against UNCG earlier this season, Cronister tallied a season-best 30 kills on 65 attacks. Colleen Reilly adds 2.65 kills per set with Grace Campbell adding 2.00 kills per set.
Lorissa King trails Penner in the league standings as the Terrier averages 9.53 assists per set this season. She’s added 10 kills on the year and averages 1.82 digs per set on the season.
Taylor Gill leads the Wofford defense with 4.51 digs per set on the season. Cronister adds 2.61 with Bijonae Jones adding 2.40 per set on the season. The Terrier defense is eighth in the league with 14.22 digs per set.