Cullowhee, N.C. – For the second consecutive season, the Western Carolina volleyball team opened its season with a sweep as the Catamounts defeated Robert Morris 3-0 in the Catamount Volleyball Classic at the Ramsey Center on Friday evening. WCU edged out an opening set win by a 25-23 margin followed by a 25-19 victory in the second set before closing out the match with a 25-21 win.
WCU won its opening match a year ago, also by a 3-0 decision, over Charleston Southern. Friday marks Western Carolina’s fourth straight season-opening win with a record of 17-23 in season-opening matches according to available records.
Sophomore MaKenzie White, a 2017 SoCon All-Freshmen Team honoree, started off her sophomore campaign with a team-leading 10 kills. Junior Meagan Sanchez tallied 13 digs, followed by Merry Gebel with 11 digs. In her collegiate debut, freshman Sydney Carlson dished out 17 assists matched by sophomore Hannah Price. Carlson had a strong night behind the serving line, finishing with a match-best four service aces.
Maria Alfano led Robert Morris with 10 kills, followed by Alyson Londot with nine. Allie Yurkovich and Taylor Lord each had nine digs, while Whitney Brown had 27 assists.
The Catamounts finished .233 offensively while the Colonials turned in a .174 attack percentage. The match featured 21 ties and nine lead changes.
A Carlson kill gave the hosts a 9-4 lead in the first set before the Colonials tied the set at nine following a WCU error. Neither team led by more than two points in the middle stages before a pair of Colonial errors and a Gebel kill gave the Catamounts a 23-20 edge. Abigail Veit’s kill claimed the first set of the season for the Catamounts.
Price gave the Catamounts a 12-9 edge in the second set before three straight kills and a pair of errors allowed Robert Morris to claim a 14-12 advantage. With the Catamounts trailing 17-15, WCU used a 9-1 run capped by a pair of Carlson service aces to pull ahead 24-18. Veit recorded the set point for the second consecutive stanza with a kill.
Setter Hannah Price’s kill allowed the Catamounts to claim an 8-5 advantage early in the third set. With the score knotted at 13, a Robert Morris error followed by a Carlson ace and a Veit kill allowed the Catamounts to claim the lead for good. An Emily Devlin kill trimmed the Catamount advantage to 22-20, but Robert Morris would get no closer the rest of the way.
Western Carolina (1-0) returns to action on Saturday with a pair of matches in tournament play, facing Charleston Southern at 12:30 p.m. before closing out the weekend against Middle Tennessee State at 6:30 p.m. Both matches will be broadcast on ESPN+ (subscription required).