Coming into last week, the strong play of the Spartans Volleyball team had put themselves at the top of the SoCon (Southern Conference) standings in the early season.
With a solid 5-2 record, that had come completely on the road, the team entered last week with their first home match of the season on Tuesday against the Panthers of High Point University, as well as the annual Spartan-Aggie Invitational that had them play two of the tournament’s three matches at Flemings Gymnasium.
By the end of the week of home matches, the Blue and Gold affirmed to the SoCon why they are at the top of the conference. In four matches last week, the team lost a total of one set out of thirteen. This included a complete sweep of the Spartan-Aggie Invitational, wining the tournament for the second straight year.
The week began on Tuesday against High Point for the inaugural home match of the season. After taking the first two sets in dominate fashion (25-16 and 25-14), High Point came out of the locker room with a renewed focus. In a well played third set that went into overtime, High Point gave the Spartans their only set loss of the week, with a 29-27 final score. However, the competitive third set was completely overshadowed with a brutal fourth set that saw the one sided score of 25-12 in favor for the Blue and Gold. Sophomore Ashley Muench began her impressive week with a team high 15 kills.
In the opening match of the invitational against Norfolk State, the Spartans picked up where they left off three nights ago. The opening set of the match saw the UNCG defense hold three different Norfolk State players to negatives numbers in hit percentage. While the next set began with a strong push back from the Spartans of Norfolk State, the Blue and Gold ended the set on a 10-4 run to take the a 2-0 lead in the match. Up 2-0, the women closed off the opening match with a 25-14 victory. Junior outside hitter Jessica Brezwyn ended the match with a double double, with 11 kills and 11 digs.
Saturday afternoon saw the Spartans play their only road match of the week. The team traveled across the city to North Carolina A&T to face the team that shares the tournament’s name. In the first set, the match looked to be the most competitive of the week. However, after a tough 25-22 victory in set one for the Spartans, the second set saw UNCG create a separation in play. The 25-22 victory in set one became 25-17 in set two, and finally, a 25-11 victory to close the match. For the third straight match, Ashley Muench finished with a team high in kills (18), while senior Katherine Santiago finished with a team high in digs (15).
The final match for the Spartans in the tournament was against the Alabama State Hornets. At this point in the tournament, it was the same song, different verse. Once again, the Spartans dominated every facet of the match in a 3-0 sweep of the Hornets, earning a victory for the second straight year in the tournament that bears their name. Freshmen Christina Gregory led the team in digs with 14, while Ashley Muench put the finishing touches on a MVP tournament with 17 kills, giving her an average of 5.67 kills per set and a .467 hit percentage.
In a conversation with Head Coach Corey Carlin talked about the feeling of playing at Fleming Gym for the tournament.
“It is always a great feeling playing in front of home fans. We have led the SoCon in average match attendance this year” he said.
“We have a great atmosphere here and the fans help make it a tough place to play and a great place to play for us.”
The team will now be on the road until the first Saturday in October. Coach Carlin alked about what he feels his team has to do to continue with their success as they embark on the road.
“I like to see us to continue to be consistent and I like to see improvement from our center hitter connection and our blocking.”
“We spent a lot of time on our blocking and it can be something that can be a source of pride for the team if we can be consistent at the net.”