No. 3 Chattanooga Defeats Mercer, 3-1
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – After falling in the second set, third-seeded Chattanooga rallied to take the next three sets and beat No. 6 seed Mercer 3-1 (25-22, 21-25, 25-14, 25-22) in the Southern Conference Volleyball Championship quarterfinals on Saturday night in the Pete Hanna Center on the campus of Samford University. The Mocs, now 18-12 on the season, will take on No. 2 seed UNCG on Sunday in the semifinals.
Senior outside hitter Allie Davenport tied the match-high with 16 kills and added 15 digs for Chattanooga, while teammate Miranda Elpers also contributed to the Mocs’ win with 16 kills. Defensively, middle blocker Emily Plumlee recorded a match-high 6.0 block assists.
On the losing side, junior right side hitter Morgan MacGilvary, a Second Team All-SoCon selection, led the Bears’ offense with 11 kills, while sophomore middle blocker Paige Alsten, also totaled 11 kills. Redshirt-senior setter Hannah Noon and setter Claire Waliczek combined for 35 assists for Mercer. Mercer standout libero Tori Penrod closed out her career with 19 digs.
The Mocs took the first set in the last match of Saturday’s nightcap. Mercer took the first point of the match after a service error from Chattanooga’s Madison Bergren, but neither team saw more than a one point lead until midway through the first frame. With the score at 10-9, Chattanooga notched three consecutive points to take a 12-10 lead before eventually going up 19-13, which was the largest lead of the first set. Chattanooga’s Allie Davenport and Miranda Elpers both recorded four kills each, while Bergren tallied six assists. The Mocs went on to take the set No. 1, 25-22.
Mercer recovered in the second set. The Mocs used a 10-3 run to take 18-12 lead after trailing 9-8. Chattanooga cut its deficit to three with the score 24-21. Chattanooga’s Kristy Wieser attacked the ball, but was blocked by Heather Swann, who recorded 2.0 block solos in the second frame. Penrod found her groove in the second frame as she recorded seven digs, which gave her 14 going into the break.
After some discussion with the 2015 Coach of the Year Travis Filar, the Mocs came out firing in the third. Chattanooga took the first three points with Madison Bergren serving for the Mocs and kills fromo Miranda Elpers, Bailey Clemons and Wieser before a Bears’ timeout. After the Bears scored the first point coming out of the huddle, Chattanooga responded with a 5-0 run to put the Mocs up 8-1. Later in the frame, Chattanooga rallied off another 5-0 run to push the Mocs’ to 17-6. The Mocs tallied 14 kills on 30 attempts with Penrod unable to record a single dig as the Mocs went on take the third set, 25-14.
The Bears looked better in set the fourth set, staying neck-and-neck with the Mocs late into the fifth. With the score tied at 18-18, Chattanooga went on a 3-0 run and the Bears could not recover. A late attack error by the Bears sealed the 25-22 victory for the Mocs.
The Mocs’ showdown with UNCG in the semifinals is slated for a 4:30 p.m. (CT) start on Sunday.
No. 2 UNCG Edges No. 7 Western Carolina in Five Sets
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Second-seeded UNCG came back to win in five sets (21-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-15, 15-12) over No. 7 seed Western Carolina in the quarterfinal round of the Southern Conference Volleyball Championship on Saturday at the Pete Hanna Center on the campus of Samford University. The Spartans move to 18-12 on the season and will face then winner of No. 3 seed Chattanooga and No. 6 Mercer on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. (CT) in the semifinals.
First Team All-SoCon selection Ashley Muench led UNCG after recording a match-high 24 kills on 50 attempts, just two shy of tying a career-high. Muench claimed her 13th double-double of the season, adding 22 digs to notch her first 20-20 match of the season. Teammates Jessica Brezwyn, Jasmine Jones and Allison Penner also sparked the Spartan offense tonight. Brezwyn totaled 19 kills on 46 attempts, while Jones tallied 12 kills and tied a game-high 7.0 blocks. Penner, also a First Team All-SoCon selection, recorded 57 assists on 66 UNCG kills.
Western Carolina’s effort was spearheaded by junior setter Jo-Keigh VerVelde, who racked up 44 assists and aided double-digit kill performances for Katie O’Connor (13), Moea Osbey (11), Abigail Veit (10) and Aleah Keaton (10). Libero Meagan Sanchez led all players with 28 digs in a losing effort for the Catamounts. Western Carolina ends its season with an overall mark of 11-19.
The first set was all Western Carolina. The Catamounts never surrendered the lead and only allowed the Spartans to tie the game twice in the first frame. VerVelde totaled 16 assists on 19 kills for the Catamounts. Sophomore outside hitter Alyssa Zupan, Katie O’Connor and Moea Osbey recorded four kills each to get things started for Western Carolina. UNCG’s Penner also saw double-digit assists in set No. 1 with 12. Brezwyn’s five kills on 10 attacks were not enough to overcome the Catamounts offense, who hit .351 in the first set.
The second set saw much of the same, but this time, the Spartans took the early 1-0 lead, but lost it after dropping three straight points. After taking a 3-1 lead, the Catamounts never surrendered the advantage nor did the Spartans tie the Catamounts in the second frame. Vervlede tallied six assists, while Penner totaled 11. Muench started to heat up, totaling seven kills on 14 attempts, but to no avail as the Catamounts headed into the locker room up 2-0.
Muench picked up right where she left off from the second set, connecting on six of her 12 attacks in the third set, including the first point on a pass from Penner. After going down 15-10, the Catmounts rallied to tie the score at 16-16. With Zupan behind the serving line, the Spartans answered, scoring two straight points to lead 18-16. A kill by O’Connor and a service ace from Gabby Edmondson tied the game, once again. After another kill by O’Connor, UNCG head coach Corey Carlin called timeout. After dropping the first point coming out of the timeout, the Spartans connected on four straight points, claiming a 22-20 lead. The Catamounts’ effort was not good enough and a service error by VerVelde ended the frame in favor of the Spartans.
Penner led the Spartan offense in the fourth set, which UNCG took decidedly, 25-10. Penner accounted for 14 assists on 15 Spartan kills, giving UNCG a hitting percentage of .225 in contrast Western Carolina’s -.065 hitting percentage. Muench tallied seven kills on 10 attempts, only recording one error and added seven digs.
The deciding fifth set was the first of the day at Pete Hanna Center and saw three ties and three lead changes. The last tie of the fifth frame was 4-4, but after a service ace from Osbey, the Catamounts never recovered. With the score 14-12 in favor of UNCG, Ronni Katarzynski’s serve was mishandled by Abaigail Veit to claim the match for the Spartans.
UNCG’s semifinal clash between the winner of third-seeded Chattanooga and Mercer, the sixth seed, is set for 4:30 p.m. (CT) on Sunday.