SPARTANBURG, S.C. - The Western Carolina volleyball team battled back from two sets down to force a fifth and deciding set Saturday night in Spartanburg, S.C., but the host Terriers of Wofford held on in the final stanza to win the match 3-2. WCU’s defense led the way in the loss as the Catamounts posted 13.5 blocks as a squad compared to Wofford’s five.
WCU career block assists leader Katie O’Connor continued to do what she does best and posted eight block assists in the loss to go along with a team-high 11 kills. Sophomores Abigail Veit and Aleah Keaton each added 10 kills. Veit had 14 digs to post another double-double while Keaton added five blocks including one solo stop.
Freshman MaKenzie White posted nine kills and four block assists while freshman Gabby Gray and senior Jo-Leigh VerVelde each added seven kills. VerVelde, who recently returned to her hitter/setter role which she played her first two seasons in Cullowhee and led the NCAA in triple-doubles as a sophomore, added 24 assists, 12 digs and seven blocks to her impressive stat line.
Freshman Hannah Price is splitting time at setter with VerVelde and had 18 assists and 12 digs.
The Terriers had three hitters reach double-figures in kills including Colleen Reilly and Catie Cronister, who tied for the team lead with 24.
The loss drops WCU’s record to 6-13 on the season and 1-5 in Southern Conference action. The Terriers improved to 14-6 overall and 4-2 in league play.
Wofford led from the start to the finish in the opening set in route to a 25-20 victory. The second set was a much different story as both teams held substantial leads. The early portion of the set was back-and-forth until an 8-1 run by the Catamounts opened up a 16-9 lead. The Terriers responded with a 13-3 run of their own to retake a 22-19 advantage. WCU cut the lead to three different times but a Wofford kill ended the set at 25-22.
The third set was close throughout but a late 3-0 run by the Catamounts gave WCU a 24-21 lead with a chance at three set points. The Terriers put down three-straight kills to tie the set at 24. A Wofford error gave the Catamounts their fourth set point but another kill by the Terriers closed the door once again at 25-25. A kill by O’Connor followed by a kill from Veit closed out the set 27-25 in favor of the Catamounts.
The fourth set was very similar to the third but the Catamounts capitalized on its very first set point at 24-22 and used a block by White and O’Connor to close out the set at 25-22.
The Catamounts struggled offensively in the fifth set as WCU had five errors to go along with its five kills to hit for a .000 average in the period. The Terriers countered with eight kills and four errors for a .211 team hitting percentage. The set was back-and-forth early but a late 7-1 run closed out the set for the Terriers at 15-10.
WCU will return to action Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 6 pm as the Catamounts host the Spartans of UNCG for another Southern Conference match.