BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The city of Birmingham proved unkind once more to the UNCG volleyball team as Samford captured a 3-0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-23) Southern Conference victory Saturday evening inside the Pete Hanna Center to keep the Spartans winless all-time in the facility. The match served as the only scheduled meeting between the teams of the season.
Both squads hit for a high percentage in the match, but the Bulldogs (14-9, 5-3 SoCon) were the better side, firing at a .434 clip as compared to a .322 performance by UNCG (11-10, 4-4 SoCon). Samford also ended up on top in digs (41-35) and kills (53-36) as well as aces (5-0) and total blocks (3.0-1.0).
Senior middle hitter Olivia Humphries (Charlotte, N.C./Myers Park) led the Spartan offense with eight kills in the match while also hitting .238 in the three sets. Defensively, sophomore libero Katherine Santiago (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Colegio Adianez) picked up 13 digs.
Humphries is just two kills away from becoming the 10th player in program history, and second this season, to eclipse the 1,000-kill mark for their careers.
UNCG netted the first point of the match thanks to a Bulldog attacking error, but it was Samford who established some breathing room at 8-5 when Gabbi Greenwald came up with a kill. The Spartans pulled within one at 9-8 when Humphries knocked down a kill, but the Bulldogs put together a 3-0 run to move ahead 12-8 and force a UNCG timeout. Samford began to pull away from there, going up 17-10 before closing out the frame by scoring eight of the last 13 points to take an early advantage in the match.
The Bulldogs did not let up as the second set began, scoring the first six points to seize early control. The Blue and Gold made things interesting after a block by Chambers and Harley put the score at 15-12 in favor of Samford, but the home team dug down and allowed UNCG just five more points in the frame – winning it 25-17 and capturing a 2-0 match lead.
It was nip and tuck early in the third frame as an ace by Stephanie Palmer afforded Samford a 7-5 advantage. The Spartans did not back down, even when the Bulldogs established a 15-12 lead on a kill by Palmer. A kill by Humphries sparked a 3-0 run which tied the score before the Blue and Gold took a 17-16 advantage thanks to a Samford attacking error. UNCG held the upper hand as late as 18-17, but the home side scored the next three points to seize control back. A Katie Murphy attacking error knotted the score at 21 apiece, however, after a Chambers kill made it 22-22, the Bulldogs netted three of the last four rallies to complete the sweep.
UNCG returns home next weekend for Homecoming, welcoming Wofford and Furman to Fleming Gymnasium. The Spartans and Terriers face off Friday before the Blue and Gold entertains the Paladins Saturday – also at 6 p.m.