Birmingham, Ala. – Western Carolina had a season-high five players finish with double figures in kills, but the Catamounts dropped a hard-fought 3-2 match at Samford on Saturday evening. The Bulldogs won by scores of 25-14, 11-25, 25-21, 17-25, 19-17.
Samford improves to 13-5 overall and 7-1 in the SoCon while Western Carolina drops to 12-9 and 6-2.
Merry Gebel led the Catamounts with 17 kills. Abigail Veit had 14 kills followed by Haley Multerer and MaKenzie White with 11. Aleah Keaton finished in double figures with 10 kills. Defensively, Meagan Sanchez had a team-best 22 digs. Gebel posted her team-leading 13th double-double of the season with 14 digs. Hannah Price dished out 50 assists.
Kelsi Hobbs led the Samford attack with 19 kills followed by Lauren Deaton with 17, Grace Tiesman with 15 and Sierra Rayzor with 11. Emily Naubert had a team-best 21 digs.
Samford opened the match on an 11-4 run before the Catamounts pulled within four, 16-12. The Bulldogs responded with five straight points as WCU got no closer.
Western Carolina raced out to a 6-0 advantage in the second set and tied the match at 1 as a Veit kill closed out the frame.
The third set featured 11 ties and five lead changes with the largest lead enjoyed by either team being three points. After a White kill evened the stanza at 16, the Bulldogs scored three of the next four points as a Tiesman kill gave the hosts a 20-17 lead. WCU trimmed the deficit to one, 20-19, only to have Samford go on a 3-1 run. The Catamounts crept within two, 23-21, on a Keaton kill before kills by Deaton and Hobbs ended the set.
A Gebel kill gave WCU an 11-4 lead in the fourth set before Samford battled back to within four, 16-12, on a Tiesman kill. The Catamounts answered with five straight points and were never threatened for the remainder of the set.
In the fifth set, WCU jumped out to a 6-2 lead before the Bulldogs pulled ahead 9-8. Neither team enjoyed more than a two-point advantage as a Hobbs kill knotted the set at 14. The Bulldogs went on to claim the set 19-17 to win the match.
Western Carolina is back at home next weekend, hosting UNCG on Friday at 6 p.m. and Furman on Homecoming Saturday at Noon.