Following a 0-3 sweep in the Tussle in the Triad tournament last week, the Spartans Volleyball team rebounded to win the Spartan-Aggie Invitational Tournament for the third consecutive time this weekend. The Spartans were able to defeat Radford University, North Carolina A&T, and Hampton in 10 sets over the course of the two day tournament.
Game 1: UNCG vs. Radford
To kick off the tournament with a victory against the Radford Highlanders, the Blue and Gold earned their first home win of the year. In the first set of the match, the Highlanders owned the scoring advantage 16-15, before four kills from UNCG gave the Spartans a 19-16 lead. From there, UNCG was able to battle to a 24-20 advantage, and a Ronni Katarzynski service ace sealed the first set for the Spartans. The second set was a bit of a different story, as Radford was able to jump to a 7-3 lead early on. After falling behind 15-9, UNCG found its footing and cut the lead to 17-15. However, the Spartans couldn’t quite find enough momentum to win the set, and ended up dropping it 25-20. After the intermission, the third set had the two teams locked at 11-11 until the Spartan offense came to life. UNCG blitzed the Highlanders with a 14-3 run to convincingly win the set 25-15, with four Spartans earning at least three kills in an 18 kill set for the Navy and Gold. The fourth and final set saw UNCG hit for another 17 kills and use a marvelous 8-0 run to take a 22-12 lead. In the end, it was Ashley Muench who closed out the match with her fifth kill of the set to win 25-17.
In this match, UNCG head coach Corey Carlin gave senior Chinwendu Ngwadom her first start of the season, and this lineup change stuck for the duration of the tournament. “Chin’s great,” said Carlin, “She’s got a great vision for the game and sees things, so giving her an opportunity was something she earned.”. Ngwadom, Muench, and Alexis Mourier combined for 34 kills in the match.
Game 2: UNCG vs. North Carolina A&T
Saturday afternoon, UNCG took on the North Carolina A&T Aggies, and came away with a victory in three sets. The game opened with a 10-5 advantage for the Spartans, and blossomed into 17-7 lead. The remainder of the set was competitive, but a service ace from Anna Romaniszyn helped UNCG take the set 25-14. The second set was extremely close, and the Spartans held a tight 19-18 lead, before three Aggie errors and kills from UNCG’s Jessica Brezwyn and Jasmine Jones propelled the Spartans to a 25-21 win. The third set featured an impressive display of serving from Anna Romaniszyn. UNCG was able to score eight points with her serving, leading to a 14-6 advantage for the Spartans. This stretch proved to be key for UNCG, as a more competitive ending to the third set saw the Spartans win 25-16. “On the whole for this weekend, I thought that our serving was really on point,” remarks Coach Carlin, “It kept the other team out of system, and they couldn’t really run their offense.”
Game 3: UNCG vs. Hampton
In the final game of the weekend, UNCG was able to sweep the Hampton Pirates in dominant fashion to win the tournament. Much like the previous game, the Spartans were able to take charge with a 25-15 win in the first set behind their serving prowess, scoring three service aces. A 6-0 run was able to give UNCG the Spartans a 16-8 lead. The Pirates were able to cut the lead to 17-12, but never came any closer in the set. The second set was similar, with the two teams tied at eight before the Blue and Gold exploded for a 10-2 run. The remainder of the set was even between the two sides, and UNCG took the second set 25-18. The third set was another dominating showing for the Spartans, who opened the set with a 10-4 lead, and stretched it to a 17-4 advantage. Hampton couldn’t come back from such a large deficit, and fell 25-15 in the final set.
After the game, Christina Gregory and Alexis Mourier won All-Tournament honors, and Jessica Brezwyn was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. The Hampton game marks the last home game UNCG will play until October. The Spartans will take on Ball State, Ohio State, and Valparaiso next week in Muncie, Indiana. “It’s quite a stretch, and that’ll be a challenge for us,” explains Coach Carlin, “We have great fans. Any time you win the tournament at home and you’re able to hoist that trophy in front of your home fans, it’s a special feeling.”