The UNCG volleyball team played two conference games last week; one at home against the Furman Paladins on Wednesday night, and another on Saturday against the ETSU Buccaneers in Tennessee. The Spartans impressed with a sweep of the Paladins, but then fell short to the Buccaneers in another sweep.
Game 1: UNCG vs. Furman
The first game of the week for UNCG was a rematch against the previously victorious Furman Paladins, who as the number one team in the Southern Conference, beat the Spartans just eleven days prior to this match down in Greenville, South Carolina. “I think they rattled us a little bit,” UNCG head coach Corey Carlin said of the first match, “I think because it was so recent, our kids were really amped to go after them again.” In the quest for revenge, UNCG was able to keep the first set extremely competitive, and both teams found themselves knotted up at 17. From here, the Spartans were able to extend their lead to 20-17, and ultimately won the set 25-22.
The second set was perhaps the most impressive set from the Spartans all week, as a 4-1 UNCG advantage quickly ballooned into a 12-4 lead. The domination continued for the Spartans all set long, and they ended up taking the set 25-15. “We passed more consistently than Furman did,” said Coach Carlin, “we were able to run more offense than they were.” The third set was another extremely close one. Similar to the first set, the two teams eventually tied at 17, but this time around, Furman was able to catapult themselves to a 20-17 lead. Despite this, the Spartans were able to turn things around and tie up the game at 23 apiece. “We’ve been building on the mentality that no matter what the score is, we can come back and push through.” explained Coach Carlin. The set continued to be a suspenseful back-and-forth affair for the two teams, as they tied at 24, then again tied at 25, before two Spartan kills sealed the sweep for UNCG.
This was the first home game the Spartans had played in about three weeks, since winning the Aggie Invitational Tournament back in September. “Any time you can win at home, I think it’s a special feeling, and it’s something that you can’t take for granted,” noted Coach Carlin, “the atmosphere here is the best in the league hands down, and so we want to take advantage of that.”
Game 2: UNCG vs. ETSU
The final game the Spartans played during the week was a tough away match against the ETSU Buccaneers. UNCG jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead, but the Bucs were able to tie the game at 9-9. Both teams continued to battle and score points in spurts, and the both teams were eventually tied at 18. ETSU used a 3-0 run to give themselves enough momentum to win the set 21-25. The second set started as another competitive set, with both teams tying at eight. The Bucs rode a 7-1 run to take a 9-15 advantage, and were able to maintain their lead at 12-19. UNCG valiantly battled back and used three straight kills to cut the deficit to as small as three at 20-23, but ETSU took control and won the set 20-25. The third set started out well for the Spartans, who took a 3-1 lead early, before the Bucs exploded for a 10-1 run to make the score 4-11 in their favor. UNCG responded strongly and cut the deficit to 12-14, but eventually saw themselves down 14-20. The Spartans then made a timely 7-1 run and brought the game to a 21-22 Bucs advantage, but ultimately fell short and lost the set 21-25.
The Spartans (8-10, 3-3) will take on the Samford Bulldogs (12-8, 3-2) and the Chattanooga Mocs (11-7, 4-1) this weekend in Fleming Gym. In other volleyball news, UNCG sophomore libero Christina Gregory was recently named the SoCon Defensive Player of the month. This marks the third time in school history that a player has received this honor, and the first time since 2007. “Christina is a fiery player,” noted Coach Carlin, “I think what she brings to the team is that consistency, that work ethic, that fight every day, and it raises everyone’s level around her.”.