Coming off a 1-2 Ball State Tournament in Indiana, the UNCG Volleyball team entered this week trying to return to form last week. Friday and Saturday saw them travel to South Carolina to compete in their first conference matches of the season. UNCG started off the weekend strong with a sweep of the Wofford Terriers on Friday evening, but later fell to the Furman Paladins on Saturday afternoon. This weekend marked the second of three straight weeks of away matches for the Spartans, who won’t return to the home comforts of Fleming Gymnasium until October 5th.
Game 1: UNCG vs. Wofford
In their first conference match of the season, the Spartans defeated the Wofford Terriers in three sets. In the first set, UNCG was able to jump out to a 12-6 lead sparked by a 4-0 run, which featured two kills from Ashley Muench. From this point, the Spartans were able to deny the Terriers from shrinking the lead to anything less than five, and won the set 25-19. The second set proved to be tougher for the blue and gold and be more evenly matched than the first. In the middle of the set, both teams stood at 11 points each, before another impressive 6-1 UNCG run propelled the Blue and Gold a 17-12 lead. After some more back and forth scoring between the two sides, the Spartans won the set 25-17 after finishing off the set on a 5-1 run, which included a service ace from Allison Penner. In the third and final set, Wofford came out to a fast start, and gained a 10-6 advantage over the Spartans. However, the Spartans valiantly fought back and were able to tie up the set at 19 apiece. A kill from Lauren Robeck capped off a 6-2 run from UNCG to put Wofford away 25-21, and sealed the sweep. Ashley Muench and Alexis Mourier led the Spartan offense with 11 kills each, hitting at .450 and .429 averages, respectively. Allison Penner led UNCG with 39 assists on the match, while Christina Gregory and Jessica Brezwyn combined for 23 digs.
Game 2: UNCG vs. Furman
To finish the weekend in South Carolina, UNCG came up short to the Furman Paladins, losing in four sets. The first set did not disappoint, as both teams found themselves knotted up at 20 points each. However, the Spartans were able to capture the momentum with a 5-1 run and win the set, behind some excellent defending from the front line. In the following set, the Paladins quickly stormed out to a 3-0 lead, and were able to push the score to 9-4 in their favor. The Spartans were unable to cut the deficit any lower than four during the set, and ended up dropping the set 25-14. The third set started very similarly to the second set, as Furman was able to ride the momentum from the previous set to an early 7-1 lead. Their lead eventually reached 18-7, and the Spartans weren’t able to do much but exchange points with the Paladins, which led to Furman winning the set 25-15. The fourth set started out very competitively like the first set, and Furman held a slight 7-6 advantage. A 12-3 run from the Paladins made the lead 19-9, and Furman appeared ready to cruise to a win in the set. UNCG was able to cut the lead to seven, but the Paladins were eventually able to finish off the set, winning 25-17. Alexis Mourier matched her previous game total with 11 kills, while Allison Penner added 24 assists for the offense. Christina Gregory led the Spartan defense with a game-high 20 digs.
By splitting the two matches, UNCG remains under .500 for the season with a 6-8 record, while sitting alongside five other SoCon teams with a 1-1 in-conference record. The blue and gold will continue SoCon play this Friday in Macon, Georgia and will match up against the Mercer Bears (9-5, 1-1), before returning to South Carolina on Saturday afternoon to take on The Citadel (6-10, 0-1).