GREENSBORO, N.C. – With only six matches remaining in the regular season, the UNCG volleyball team welcomes Western Carolina and Appalachian State to Fleming Gymnasium for a pair of important Southern Conference contests. The Spartans and Catamounts battle Friday while the Blue and Gold faces the Mountaineers Saturday. Both matches are scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.
UNCG (13-10, 6-4 SoCon) enters the weekend in a four-way tie for third place with Western Carolina (16-8, 6-4 SoCon), Samford and Elon while Appalachian State (14-10, 5-5 SoCon) sits just a game behind the group in seventh. The top eight teams in the standings qualify for the league tournament.
The Spartans picked up pair of SoCon victories last weekend at home, defeating Wofford and second-place Furman both in four sets. Freshman setter Sara Hohman (Zionsville, Ind./Cathedral) was named the Southern Conference Freshman of the Week as she posted two double-doubles and set career highs in assists (54) and digs (22) against the Paladins. UNCG out-hit both teams by a combined .281-.129 while also racking up 14.25 kills, 13.38 assists, 1.50 aces, 16.75 digs and 2.69 blocks per set.
Since league play has started, the Spartans have put up some nice statistical numbers. In SoCon matches, UNCG ranks first in hitting percentage and opponent hitting percentage, second in digs per set and fourth in assists per set, kills per set, blocks per set and aces per set.
Individually, senior middle hitter Morgan Freeman (Virginia Beach, Va./University of Connecticut) and junior middle hitter Vicky Harley (Blythewood, S.C./Blythewood) are fourth and sixth in the league in hitting percentage, sophomore libero Katherine Santiago (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Colegio Adianez) is fifth in digs per set, Freeman is sixth in blocks per set and Hohman is eighth in assists per set.
Humphries paces the offensive attack for the Blue and Gold this season with 273 kills (3.14 per set) and is hitting .235 while Santiago leads the defense with 396 digs (4.55 per set). Freeman also tops the squad in aces per set (0.24) and blocks per set (0.86).
The Catamounts are coming off a three-set loss at Appalachian State Sunday, splitting the season series with the Mountaineers. WCU has cooled off recently, having dropped four of its last six after putting together a six-match winning streak in late September. Jordan Timmerman has emerged as the top offensive player for the Catamounts as she owns 299 kills (3.44 per set) and is hitting .227. Cristina Nazario has run the offense at the setter position to the tune of 887 assists (10.20 per set) while Morgan Cochran is the top libero statistically in the league with 535 digs (6.15 per set). UNCG and Western split a pair of matches last season with both squads winning on their home floors. The Catamounts lead the series between the programs 19-14.
Appalachian State is playing well as of late, entering the weekend on a three-match winning streak. Emily Corrigan is the top offensive option for the Mountaineers as she boasts 321 kills (3.57 per set). Lauren Gray is hitting a team-best .363 while Paige Brown takes care of the setting duties and is averaging 11.10 assists per set. Defensively, Meghan Mahoney anchors the back row and has tallied a squad-high 488 digs (5.42 per set). UNCG won both meetings between the schools last season and leads the series 22-21.
The Spartans head back on the road next weekend for a couple of rematches with Furman (Friday) and Wofford (Saturday). Both contests are slated for 6 p.m.