The UNCG volleyball team (7-11, 1-3) broke a six-game losing streak with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-22, 25-22) victory over The Citadel last Wednesday before falling vs Wofford 3-1 (24-26, 26-28, 28-26, 25-14) on Saturday.
The Spartans entered Wednesday’s match vs The Citadel, desperate for a victory after dropping their first two SoCon outings, and came out swinging. UNCG jumped out to an early 11-3 lead, forcing a Citadel timeout. Up 23-13, the Spartans’ Maria Esch put the set away with back-to-back kills. The junior finished with a game-high 12 kills, along with 11 digs and 29 assists.
The Citadel proved more resilient in the second set, scoring three straight with their backs against the wall to cut UNCG’s lead to 24-22, but Esch again came through and slammed the door closed with another kill. The Spartans again outlasted the Bulldogs in the third and finally ended their skid. It was a much-needed win for the Spartans and another standout performance for Esch, who ranks sixth in the SoCon in kills.
Sporting their alternate gray jerseys, UNCG was back in Fleming on Saturday for a 5 p.m. matchup vs conference-rival Wofford. The Spartans also wore stark green hair bands for mental health awareness, part of the University’s campaign to end the stigma against mental illness.
Led by 2017 SoCon Player of the Year Catie Cronister, the Terriers (10-8, 3-1 in SoCon) stomped out UNCG’s comeback attempt to take the match in four sets. Cronister finished with ten kills, while the Terriers’ Riley Coonan owned the net with 13 kills and two blocks.
Wofford opened the first set with a 13-10 lead, forcing a UNCG timeout. The Spartans responded with four straight points, capped off with a Lauren Robeck kill, who let out a yell as UNCG took the lead. The teams exchanged blows down the line, until UNCG’s Hannah Knier shanked a kill that would’ve given them the 25-24 lead. A Cronister block on the ensuing play gave the set to Wofford.
The G bounced back with an early 5-3 lead in the second set, but let the Terriers retake the lead thanks to a number of mishaps, including two attacking errors. It was an intensely fierce set that featured 12 ties and six lead changes, but UNCG’s Emily Durham sailed a serve out of bounds with the Spartans leading 25-24. Though UNCG again tied it at 26 thanks to another Esch kill, Riley Coonan captured the set for the Terriers with a vicious kill through the teeth of the UNCG defense.
Down 2-0, UNCG rallied in the third set. Tied at 13, UNCG won a long, wild rally. The crowd exploded, and Wofford called for time. The Terriers regrouped and ultimately took a 24-23 lead after a Brittany Wood service error. Set point, Wofford.
After exchanging blows and the crowd on the edge of their seats, Emily Durham knocked in a service ace for the Spartans, and Wood redeemed herself with the set-winning kill. 28-26, Spartans.
Unfortunately, that was all that UNCG had left in the tank. The Terriers opened up the fourth set with a 5-0 run and didn’t look back from there, taking the final set 25-14. Brittany Wood finished with ten kills and 34 assists, while Camille Anderson also finished with ten kills. The Spartans will be back in action on Friday at Chattanooga and return to Fleming on Oct 19 vs Mercer.