CULLOWHEE, N.C. - It took all five sets but the Western Carolina volleyball team was able to come away with a season opening victory over Conference USA member UAB Friday night inside the Ramsey Center. The match was part of the 2016 Catamount Volleyball Classic which also saw Tennessee Tech defeat Charleston Southern in straight sets.
A quartet of Catamounts led the way offensively with two seeing their first career action in the Purple & Gold. Freshman Abigail Veit led the way for WCU as she put down a team-high 14 kills while also digging up 15 balls for her first career double-double. Fellow newcomer Gabby Edmondson, who joined WCU as a junior college transfer, picked up 11 kills and 17 digs in her debut for the Catamounts. Veit added a pair of blocks while Edmondson had one.
Two returning juniors joined the newcomers as Kaycey Cermin and Katie O'Connor each picked up 11 kills. O'Connor led the team with a .429 attack percentage and also stuff seven Blazer attacks for a team-high seven blocks. Cermin added six blocks including a team-best two solo stops.
Overall, WCU out-blocked UAB 13-7 with six different Catamounts getting in on the action.
Junior Jo-Leigh VerVelde transitioned well into her fulltime role as WCU's primary setter as she delivered a career-high 47 assists in the match while also digging up 16 balls and blocking four UAB attacks. Freshman Meagan Sanchez took over at libero for departing senior Elyssa Mulheron and picked up a team-high 19 digs in her debut.
The Catamounts won the first, third and fifth sets to take the match as the two teams traded blows. WCU never trailed in the opening period taking a 25-19 victory. The Blazers responded with a 25-20 win in the second set before WCU repeated its first set success with another 25-19 victory in the third set. A tight 25-21 fourth set went the Blazers way before WCU came out and took the fifth set 15-11.
The Catamounts will now face Charleston Southern and Tennessee Tech on Saturday. WCU's match with CSU will take place at 1:30 pm while the Catamounts face the Golden Eagles at 7 pm. Both matches will be streamed on the SoCon Digital Network.