UNCG takes 3-1 match from Appalachian State in SoCon opener
BOONE, NC – After falling in the first set, UNC Greensboro came back to win the final three as the Spartans defeated Appalachian State 3-1 on Wednesday night at the Holmes Center in what was the opening Southern Conference match for both teams. Set scores were 17-25, 29-27, 25-16, 27-25.
In the first set, UNCG had to contend with an Appalachian State offense that had 13 kills off 30 total attacks while making just three errors for a .333 hitting percentage. The Mountaineers led throughout the entire first set. Although UNCG trailed by three on several different occasions early on, Appalachian State scored straight points multiple times, including a four-point run to take a 23-15 lead. Consecutive blocks by UNCG cut the deficit to six, but Appalachian State got the last two points of the set off a UNCG service error and a Kasey Sauls kill.
The Mountaineers scored the first five points of the second set, but UNCG stormed back and eventually tied the set 9-9 off an Appalachian State attack error. The teams exchanged points before a kill by Carolina Sedon started a five-point run that resulted in Appalachian State taking a 15-10 lead. However, the Spartans fought back. Trailing by four, UNCG recorded eight-straight points to take a 22-19 advantage. The run started with an Appalachian State service error and included kills from senior Kaitlyn Nortz, sophomore Alissa Beaudway and freshman Clara Tse and an ace by junior Catherine Hanners. UNCG held a 23-20 edge before a Sedon kill allowed the Mountaineers to even the set at 23-all. UNCG and Appalachian State traded points until the Mountaineers took a 27-26 edge off a Spartan error. However, straight kills by junior Branagan Fuller and sophomore Kayren Finney returned the lead to UNCG. A bad Appalachian State set allowed UNCG to capture the final point of the set in order to tie the match at 1-1.
UNCG and Appalachian State traded the lead throughout the beginning of the third set. However, with the set tied at 6-6, a kill by Tse gave the Spartans the lead. UNCG pushed its lead to five as Finney had a kill that made it 13-8. However, Appalachian State began to rally and used a four-point run to pull within one. A Mountaineer service error and a Beaudway kill allowed UNCG to hold a three-point edge, but three straight Appalachian State points tied the set at 15-all. On the next play, Finney and Beaudway blocked an Appalachian State attack that sparked an eight-point run as UNCG pulled away. After a Sauls kill, UNCG recorded the last two points of the set. Beaudway and Finney combined for another block and Tse notched the set-winning kill as UNCG took a 2-1 lead in the match.
In the fourth set, the Mountaineers jumped out the early lead, but UNCG clawed its way back. Trailing 12-8, the Spartans scored six straight points to take a 14-12 advantage. Kills from Carla Durham and Becca Norris allowed the Mountaineers to tie the set 14-14. UNCG got six of the next seven points to go up 20-15. A good portion of the Spartans' six points came from Fuller, who had three kills and a block assist with Finney. However, the Mountaineers began to chip away at UNCG's lead and eventually pulled to within one as Lauren Swecker's kill made it 22-21. Back-to-back kills from Finney and Fuller provided UNCG with a two-point cushion, but three-straight Mountaineer points knotted the set up at 24-24. After the teams exchanged kills, Nortz notched back-to-back kills, including winning a battle at the net for the final point of the match.
Fuller had a 16-kill, 15-dig double-double. Nortz hit a team-best .346 with 12 kills off 26 total attacks and three errors. Junior Lisa Fawell totaled 26 assists and sophomore Kimiko Naito added 22. Hanners posted a match-high 22 digs and Finney had seven block assists.
Jordan Jesberg had a team-high 13 kills for the Mountaineers. Sauls posted a 30-assist, 10-dig double-double, while Heather Kale had a team-high 12 digs.
The Spartans return to the court on Saturday when they play at Western Carolina in Cullowhee, NC. Match time is scheduled for 4 p.m., from the Ramsey Center.
UNCG def. Appalachian State 17-25,29-27,25-16,27-25
UNCG (9-5, 1-0 SoCon) (Kills-aces-blocks) - Branagan Fuller 16-0-3; Kaitlyn Nortz 12-0-4; Kayren Finney 9-0-7; Clara Tse 7-0-1; Alissa Beaudway 6-0-3; Luciana Shafer 3-0-0; Billi Baker 2-0-1; Kimiko Naito 1-0-0; Caley Redden 1-0-2; Lisa Fawell 1-0-0; Catherine Hanners 0-1-0; Totals 58-1-11.0. (Assists) - Lisa Fawell 26; Kimiko Naito 22. (Dig leaders) - Catherine Hanners 22; Branagan Fuller 15; Clara Tse 13
Appalachian State (5-10, 0-1 SoCon) (Kills-aces-blocks) – Jordan Jesberg 13-1-0; Carla Durham 10-0-5; Lauren Swecker 8-2-2; Caroline Sedon 8-0-3; Kasey Sauls 4-0-0; Becca Norris 1-0-0; Maggie Seeds 1-0-4; Cassie Engelgau 0-3-0; Heather Kale 0-3-0; Totals 45-9-9.0. (Assists) - Kasey Sauls 30. (Dig leaders) - Heather Kale 12; Lauren Swecker 11; Kasey Sauls 10; Cassie Engelgau 8; Jordan Jesberg 8
- UNCG -