Only a week after dominating the Spartan-Aggie Invitational, the UNCG Volleyball squad was on the road again for the Ball State Active Ankle Challenge in Muncie, Indiana. The Spartans faced a loaded schedule with games against Ball State, nationally ranked #19 Ohio State, and Valparaiso. It was a very competitive weekend that showcased the resilience of the Spartans.
Game 1: UNCG vs. Ball State
In their first game of the tournament the Spartans fell to the Ball State Cardinals in 5 hard fought sets. UNCG started slow, dropping the first set 25-12 before a hard fought recovery in the second set. The second set was tied 11-11 and later tied at 21-21 before the Blue and Gold rattled off 4 straight points, highlighted by Anna Romaniszyn’s first kill of the match, to win 25-21. The third set was a hard fought grind between the two teams until the Ball State Cardinal’s went on a 3-0 run to gain some distance. The Cardinals finished the set with kills from Brooklyn Goodsel, Ellie Dunn, and Emily Holland to finish the set 25-22. The fourth set was most marked by a 4-0 run by the Spartans to take an 18-13 lead, the rest of the match was simply an exchange of points before UNCG captured the set 25-20. In the decisive game 5, the Ball State Cardinals took an early 6-3 advantage that was too much for the Spartans to overcome before falling 15-11 and losing the game. UNCG’s Ashley Muench led the team with 15 kills during the match, while Allison Penner led the offense with 29 assists.
Game 2: UNCG vs. Ohio State
The Spartans fell in three quick sets in their first ever game against a Big Ten opponent. The Blue and Gold played a close first set, even leading 17-14 at one point. However, the No. 19 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes went on 5-0 run to close out the set 25-20. The second set too started close with UNCG within 2 before a strong run by Ohio State. The Buckeyes secured a 5 point cushion at 13-8 before going on an 11-1 run to close out the set. In the third set, a run was again a deciding factor. While only leading by two the Buckeyes rattled off 8 straight to take a 14-4 lead. The two teams exchanged a flurry of points before Ohio State captured the final set and the game at 25-14.
Game 3: UNCG vs. Valparaiso
In the final match of the weekend, the Spartans seized the day against the Valparaiso Crusaders. The Blue and Gold shot out to an early 8-0 lead. The Crusaders did not give up easily in the set, at one even leading the game at 25-24. A perfectly timed kill by Anna Romaniszyn and an attack error by Valparaiso’s Allison Ketcham ultimately swung the game in the Spartan’s favor at 27-25. The second set was hard fought by both sides. The Spartan’s were down 23-17 at one point but rattled off 8 straight points to win the set at 25-23. With a 2-0 set lead the Spartans went into the third set looking to finish things up, but again Valparaiso Crusaders refused to go quietly. Tied up at 21-21 the Crusaders went on 4-1 run to close out the third set. With a win still on their mind the Blue and Gold fought a tough fourth set. Tied at 26-26 late in the game UNCG showed resilience and used kills from Jessica Brezwyn and Jasmine Jones to close out the set 28-26 and to seize their first win of the tournament.
The Spartans continued their streak of non-conference matches to start the season and currently sit at 5-7 overall. Conference play begins this upcoming weekend with away games against Wofford (7-6) and Furman (3-8). If the fight of the team is anything like it was at their most recent game with Valparaiso, many more wins should be on the way this season.