Sidney’s Career Night Lifts Volleyball Past Citadel
GREENSBORO, N.C. – A stellar offensive performance by sophomore outside hitter Kelsey Sidney helped the UNCG volleyball team outlast The Citadel Saturday night and pick up a 3-2 (19-25, 25-20, 24-26, 25-17, 15-11) Southern Conference victory at Fleming Gymnasium.
It was the eighth five-set match for the Blue and Gold this season and UNCG evened its record to 4-4 in those contests.
"It's nice to get another victory, especially in conference play," head coach Patrick Nicholas said. "However, I continue to be disappointed in our blocking and the way we start matches. I thought Kelsey was great tonight. Julia (Westerbur) also came in and played well late. It was nice to see Karrian (Chambers) have another good fifth-set performance. We will correct some things next week in practice and get ready to go on the road."
Sidney posted a career-best 18 kills on 22 attempts and made just one error to hit a sizzling .773 – also a career high mark. Freshman Laurent Betlach and junior Karrian Chambers also recorded double-digit kills with 16 and 11 respectively. The Spartans (7-6, 2-0) nearly received a triple-double performance from sophomore setter Emily McMurtrey as she produced career bests in kills (seven) and digs (13) while completing a double-double with 56 assists. McMurtrey hit well, making just one error in 10 attempts for a .600 showing. She also contributed a pair of blocks.
Defensively, the Blue and Gold placed four players in double-digit digs as junior Kellie Orewiler led the way with 24. Freshman Katherine Santiago and redshirt junior Olivia Humphries added 14 and 10 to aid the Spartans' cause.
UNCG racked up a season-best 74 kills and fired at a .260 clip as compared to 54 kills and a .220 percentage by the visitors. The Spartans also outdug the Bulldogs 81-65 while both teams were credited with seven aces. UNCG was very solid offensively in the fifth set, hitting .500 with 11 kills.
A kill by Rachael Farrell gave The Citadel (2-13, 0-1) a 6-3 lead to start the match. The Spartans rallied with a 7-4 run which was capped off by a Betlach kill, making the score 10-10. The teams battled to a 16-16 deadlock before the Bulldogs pulled away by scoring nine of the final 12 points of the frame.
UNCG found itself trailing by two points early in the second interval at 7-5, but scored five-straight points to force a Citadel timeout. The Bulldogs were able to respond as the Spartans began to make mistakes, taking the lead 12-11. Another pair of timeouts left the score at 20-18 in favor of the home side and UNCG would tie the match by winning the second set 25-20. Sidney posted three-straight kills to end the frame.
The teams traded the lead to start the third set before the Bulldogs took charge with four-straight scores to assume a 14-10 cushion. The Spartans tried to rally and eventually caught Citadel and tied the interval at 22 on another Sidney kill. A Mikaela Tracy ball-handling error on set point for the Bulldogs gave UNCG life, but a Spartan attack error and Lauren Hurt kill afforded Citadel the final two points it needed to take a 2-1 match lead.
With a 7-5 lead in the fourth set, thanks to junior Morgan Freeman and Betlach's block, UNCG forced a timeout from the visitors' bench. The advantage grew to 14-9 on a Bulldog ball-handling error before an attack error by Jessica Maxwell pushed the Spartans' lead to 19-13. A Freeman kill gave UNCG an insurmountable 22-14 edge as the Spartans would go to a fifth set for the third time in the last four contests.
The Spartans notched the first four points of the deciding frame via three kills and a Citadel attack error before the Bulldogs answered with a 4-0 run of their own. UNCG refused to back down on its home floor, scoring five of the next six points to move in front by four. The Citadel drew no closer than three the rest of the way as Chambers rose high above the block and nailed the ball down the left line to seal the Spartan victory
UNCG takes its first SoCon road trip of the season next weekend, traveling to meet Western Carolina and Appalachian State. The Spartans will take on the Catamounts Saturday, Sept. 29 at 5 p.m. inside the Ramsey Center to begin the road swing.
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