No. 3 UNCG Defeats No. 6 Chattanooga, 3-1
CULLOWHEE, N.C. – No. 3 UNCG capped off the first day of competition at the 2017 Southern Conference Volleyball Championship with a 3-1 (25-16, 25-22, 23-25, 25-16) win over sixth-seeded Chattanooga on Friday night. The Spartans will now face No. 2 ETSU in the semifinals at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
UNCG (19-10) got off to a fast start in the first set, running out to a 7-0 lead thanks to four kills by 2017 Co-player of the Year Ashley Muench and forcing Chattanooga (13-18) head coach Travis Filar to call a timeout. The Mocs responded out of the timeout, scoring three straight points to make it 7-3. But the Spartans continued to extend their lead, building off Muench’s nine first-set kills to clinch the first set, 25-16.
Just like in the first set, the Spartans jumped out to an 8-0 lead. Following the eight-point run, Chattanooga scored seven of the next eight points to pull within two. Trailing 14-11, Chattanooga reeled off five consecutive points to take its first lead of the set and then continued to add to that lead, pushing the gap to three. The lead was short-lived however as the Spartans reeled off four consecutive points to take a 19-18 lead. The last five points of the game saw two ties and three lead changes before UNCG pulled away and took the second set 25-22.
In the third set, UNCG scored the first point and did not relinquish that lead until Chattanooga mounted a gritty comeback and took a late 23-22 advantage. With Chattanooga on the verge of taking its first set, junior Miranda Elpers served the ball into the net, making the score 24-23. But Elpers was bailed out on the next play after a ball-handling error was called against UNCG, giving the Mocs their first win in the match.
The fourth set started like the first two as UNCG got out to a fast start, taking a 9-4 lead and then extending that to 13-6. But the resilient Mocs kept things close and continued to battle until the Spartans clinched match point with a block, advancing them to the semifinals for just the seventh time in program history with the 25-16 fourth-set victory.
The Spartans were led by Muench’s double-double as the senior tallied 21 kills and 15 digs. All-SoCon first-team selection Allison Penner dished out 41 assists while libero Christina Gregory tallied 26 digs. Four other Spartans recorded double-digit digs in the match as UNCG finished with 98 total.
On the other side of the net, Chattanooga was led by All-SoCon second-team member Ally Ford who also posted a double-double with 12 kills and 10 digs. Elpers was the only other Moc to record double-digit kills (11) as the junior finished with a .243 attack percentage.
Second-seeded ETSU advances with 3-0 win
CULLOWHEE, N.C. – Second-seeded ETSU downed No. 7 Western Carolina in three sets (25-22, 25-18, 25-18) on Friday evening, as the Bucs advanced to the semifinals of the 2017 Southern Conference Volleyball Championship. With the win, the Bucs (17-11) have now advanced to the semifinals for the third straight year and 15th year overall. ETSU will face the winner of the Chattanooga vs. UNCG game at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
ETSU came out of the gates quick, scoring eight straight points to take an early lead 8-0 lead and forcing Western Carolina (11-19) to take a timeout. The Catamounts got on the board following the timeout but the Bucs continued to pour it on, pushing their lead to 12-4. ETSU extended the gap to as many as eight again later in the set but the Catamounts responded with three-straight points and pulled within five. Western Carolina then closed the gap to three following a ball-handling error by the Bucs, making it 23-20 ETSU. The Catamounts tacked on two more points, pulling within one but ETSU claimed the next two points to end the Catamounts comeback attempt and take the first set.
The second set started off close with the Catamounts pulling within two thanks to a kill by Gabby Gray to make the score 16-14 in favor of the Bucs. ETSU responded with three straight points, making it a five-point lead and Western Carolina was never able to recover as the Bucs claimed the second set 25-18 and a 2-0 lead in the match.
Following a 10-minute intermission, the Catamounts found themselves in an eight-point hole but a kill by Western Carolina’s Gabby Gray and two hitting errors by the Bucs closed the gap to three. The Catamounts were unable to complete the comeback however and a service ace by All-SoCon first-team member Rylee Milhorn clinched the win for the Bucs.
Milhorn led the Bucs with a double-double, recording 12 kills and 12 digs. Fellow first-team selection Leah Clayton also had a solid game for ETSU, posting seven kills and 15 digs. 2017 Freshman and Libero of the Year Marija Popovic finished the match with 13 digs. As a team, the Bucs finished with a .275 attack percentage.
Gray, a freshman, led the Catamounts with 12 kills on 35 attempts and seven digs. Sophomore Abigail Veit had 14 digs to lead the Catamounts and All-Freshman team member MaKenzie White finished with five kills in her SoCon Tournament debut.
2017 Southern Conference Volleyball Championship
Ramsey Center ▪ Cullowhee, N.C.
Friday, Nov. 17
Match 1: #8 Mercer 3, #9 The Citadel 1
Match 2: #4 Wofford 3, #5 Samford 2
Match 3: #1 Furman 3, #8 Mercer 1
Match 4: #2 ETSU 3, #7 Western Carolina 0
Match 5: #3 UNCG 3, #6 Chattanooga 1
Saturday, Nov. 18
Match 6: #4 Wofford vs. #1 Furman, 2 p.m. (SDN)
Match 7: #2 ETSU vs. #3 UNCG, 4:30 p.m. (SDN)
Sunday, Nov. 19
Match 8: Match 6 winner vs. Match 7 winner, 2 p.m. (ESPN3)