After closing out the month of September with a painful six game losing streak and only one set won, the Volleyball team have gone on a General Sherman-like streak through their opponents. The last time the team lost a match, the MLB Postseason was still a week away from starting, midterms were just starting to get underway, and there had yet to be a Democratic Debate. All throughout the month of October, the team won all nine of their matchups. Five of which, the Blue and Bold did not lose a set. This weekend, the Spartans played their final two home games and hoped to stretch their streak to eleven.
On Friday night against the Mercer Bears, the Spartans extended their streak to double digits with another straight set victory. Despite not winning a set, the Bears took the Spartans to the brink in each set, with the match seeing 36 tied scores and 13 lead changes throughout. After holding on to the opening set 25-23, the second set was even further competitive and had to be won 30-28. The Spartans took the momentum of the two tough set victories to win the final set 25-19. Freshman Allison Penner led the team with 12 digs and 34 assists, as sophomore Ashley Muench had her own double double with 10 digs and a team high 10 kills.
On Saturday in the late afternoon, the Spartans hosted the last team to defeat them in over a month, East Tennessee State. The team’s three seniors, Katherine Santiago, Julia Westerbur, and Lauren Betlach, were honored in a pregame ceremony. Coach Corey Carlin talked about the impact the three has had on the team.
“The last two years, I have been blessed with having great seniors. Lauren, Julia, and Kat just meant so much for this program” Carlin said. “In no small way have they contributed to our success. They contribute, bring a lot to the team, and during the ten match winning streak, they were a big part of it.”
However, when talking about senior athletes or win streaks, all good things must come to an end. The team suffered its first lost in over a month Saturday and their first home loss of the year in straight sets against the Buccaneers. With the emotions of the senior night ceremony, the Spartans took a seemingly commanding 15-10 lead in the first set and had all the momentum.
However, following a timeout, the Bucs went on a 15-6 tear to take the opening set. In the second set, a similar story occurred. A 7-3 run in the middle of the set gaved UNCG a 16-12 lead before the Bucs went on a 9-3 run. Not wanting to go down 0-2, the Blue and Gold forced a 25-25 tie. ETSU then took the first two points of the set to take a commanding lead going into halftime. At the break, Carlin discussed what was said in the locker room.
“We needed to get back to assignment Volleyball. There were times in each set where we had significant leads and East Tennessee State fought back” Carlin said.
“Our ball control broke down a bit. We were tentative which I thought was a factor. But credit them. They served really aggressively, got us out system, and made our offense really predictable.”
The final set did not have the same back and forth play of the first two sets. East Tennessee took went on a 9-3 run to take a 15-9 lead and never looked back to win the final set 25-17. UNCG committed six errors of their 21 errors in the final set. Lauren Betlach led the team with 14 digs while no one on the Spartans reached double digits in kills.
With the 1-1 weekend, the Spartans are 10-4 in conference play. The team currently is sharing second place with the Furman Paladins and are one game out of the 11-3 Chattanooga Mocs. This weekend, matches at Wofford and Furman will close out the Spartans regular season. The two games will also finalized the conference standings as the Blue and Gold are only one game back from the conference leading Mocs who have a 11-3 SoCon record.