ELON, N.C. – A potent offensive display lifted the UNCG volleyball team to a sweep over local rival Elon Wednesday evening at Alumni Gym as the Spartans downed the Phoenix 25-19, 25-21 and 25-20 to complete the season series sweep. The contest marked the last scheduled meeting between the teams as Elon is slated to join the Colonial Athletic Association next season.
With the victory, UNCG can finish no worse than fifth in the conference standings. Additionally, with one more league win, the Spartans can record their most SoCon victories (10) since the league went to a 16-match conference schedule.
“I was really pleased with our offense tonight,” head coach Patrick Nicholas said. “Karrian had another solid match and we had a lot of hitters with high percentages. I also liked how our defense took what Elon gave us and kept balls in play.”
Reigning Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week and senior outside hitter Karrian Chambers (College Station, Texas/A&M Consolidated) put together another stellar outing, recording a match-high 13 kills on 26 attempts with just four errors to finish with a .346 hitting mark. Senior middle hitter Morgan Freeman (Virginia Beach, Va./University of Connecticut) hit for a high percentage, recording nine kills on 20 swings with no errors to end up at .450. Senior middle hitter Olivia Humphries (Charlotte, N.C./Myers Park) was also flawless in 15 attempts as she tallied eight kills and hit .533. Defensively, sophomore libero Katherine Santiago (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Colegio Adianez) averaged just over six digs per set as she checked in with 19 in the three frames.
The Spartans (16-12, 9-6 SoCon) were very efficient on offense, hitting .340 as a team with 42 kills and only 10 errors. UNCG also out-dueled the Phoenix (16-15, 7-8 SoCon) defensively – posting 43 digs to Elon’s 36.
A kill by Cali Estes gave Elon a quick 4-1 lead before UNCG stormed back with three-straight points to knot the score. The Spartans went on a 5-2 run from that point, capped off by a Humphries kill to make it 9-6 in favor of the Blue and Gold. As it turned out, despite a pair of Phoenix timeouts, UNCG did not allow Elon to get any closer than three the rest of the way as a kill by Humphries ended the first stanza at 25-19. Humphries and Chambers had four kills each in the set while the Spartans hit .286 as a team and limited the hosts to a .171 showing.
The second frame was a bit more competitive as the teams played to a 7-7 tie early on. A block by Elon gave the Phoenix a slight 10-9 edge, but a kill by Humphries capped a 7-2 run propelled UNCG in front by a 16-12 margin and forced a timeout from the home bench. The Spartans built a 23-18 cushion before Elon scored three straight points to draw within a pair. The Blue and Gold would slam the door shut though thanks to a kill by Harley and a Phoenix ballhandling error. The 25-21 set victory gave UNCG a two set lead heading into intermission. The Spartans bettered their hitting in the stanza, firing at a .290 clip. Elon also improved to .211 but ultimately could not match UNCG’s offensive output.
A kill by Chambers made the score 5-4 Spartans as the third set began. The teams traded the lead back and forth through much of the frame before UNCG broke open a tie at 18 with two-straight points – an ace by freshman defensive specialist Mackenzie Moughon (Mathews, Va./Mathews) and an attacking error by Ally Karle. Elon would tie the score at 20 to keep it interesting, but the Spartan offense tallied four kills to end the match on a 5-0 run and complete the sweep.
The Blue and Gold wraps up regular season play Friday, welcoming Davidson to Fleming Gymnasium for a 7 p.m. match. The Spartans will honor their four seniors before the contest.