Cullowhee, N.C. – Western Carolina honored its trio of seniors Aleah Keaton, Meagan Sanchez, and Abigail Veit prior to Friday’s match against Samford, but the Bulldogs emerged with a 3-0 victory at the Ramsey Center in Southern Conference action. Samford won by scores of 25-20, 25-23 and 25-18. 

Samford improves to 20-5 overall and 14-1 in the SoCon while WCU concludes the regular season at 17-12 and 11-5, in third place in the league standings.

Hannah Price posted her 13th double-double of the year with 22 assists and 12 digs to rank among WCU’s leaders on the night. Keaton had a team-best eight kills to pace the Catamount offense. Sanchez had 15 digs followed by Merry Gebel with 12 and Veit with 10.

Grace Tiesman led Samford with a double-double as she had 12 kills and 12 digs. Kelsi Hobbs had 10 kills with Lauren Deaton and Emily Naubert both recording a match-best 17 digs.

Neither team led by more than three points early in the first set before the Bulldogs tallied four straight points to push their advantage to 16-10. The Catamounts pulled within four, 17-13, following a MaKenzie White kill but would get no closer for the rest of the set. WCU fought off three-consecutive set points before falling, 25-20.

With the second set tied at 15, Samford used a 6-1 run for a 21-16 advantage following a Hobbs kill. The Catamounts managed to pull to within two, 23-21, on a Samford error. The teams traded the next two points before Keaton and Haley Multerer teamed up for a block to bring the hosts within a point. A Briana Holmes kill ended the set. The frame had 10 ties with one lead change with WCU again fending off three separate set points.

After Samford jumped out to a 7-4 lead in the third set, WCU pulled within one, 7-6, following a Bulldog error. Samford extended its lead to 16-11 following a Sierra Rayzor kill before the Catamounts used a Veit kill and a Bulldog error to trim the deficit to 19-16. The Catamounts would get no closer than four points for the rest of the set as a WCU error ended the match.

Western Carolina has secured the No. 3 seed at the Southern Conference Tournament next weekend in Spartanburg, S.C. The Catamounts will face an opponent a to-be-determined after Saturday’s conclusion of the SoCon regular season in quarterfinal action at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Richardson Indoor Stadium.

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