CULLOWHEE, N.C. - The Western Carolina volleyball team went the distance in its opening match of the season as the Catamounts defeated visiting Georgia State, 3-2, inside the Ramsey Center Friday evening. The match was a part of the 2015 Catamount Volleyball Classic which will continue Saturday morning at 11 am.
WCU’s youth led the way as sophomore Jo-Leigh Vervelde put down a team-high 17 kills while dishing out 18 assists. She also had six digs, three blocks and a pair of service aces for an all-around effort. Freshman Savannah Kohlhagen made a splash in her collegiate debut as she ranked second on the team with 11 kills while also contributing 10 digs.
Sophomores Kaycey Cermin and Katie O’Connor and freshman Alyssa Zupan all had eight kills in the match to round out the offensive attack. Cermin added four blocks including two solo stops while O’Connor had a team-high five blocks with one solo.
Senior setter Cristina Nazario ran the offense while handing out 25 assists and picking up a team-high 13 digs. She also tied for the team-high with two service aces. Senior libero Elyssa Mulheron had 12 digs and four assists while sophomore defensive specialist Lucy Lambert turned in 10 digs and an ace.
As a team the Catamounts had a .238 attack percentage, six service aces and nine blocks. The Panthers of Georgia State hit .227 with eight aces and nine blocks.
The Catamounts took advantage of 56 GSU errors. The Panthers had 32 attacking errors, 14 service errors and 10 blocking errors while the Catamounts had just 30 miscues.
WCU dropped a tough opening set 26-24 in which the Catamounts led by four most of the way until a 7-2 run late in the set swung the advantage to the Panthers. The Catamounts trailed just once in the second stanza as Kohlhagen put down five kills on just 10 attacks to lead WCU to a 25-21 set win. The third set once again went WCU’s way as Vervelde had six kills and a pair of blocks in the 25-20 victory. The fourth set was all GSU as the Panthers hit .462 as a team and never trailed in route to a 25-17 win.
The fifth and deciding set was an exciting one as it looked to be in WCU’s control late but a run by the Panthers made things interesting. The Catamounts had match point at 14-10 but two kills and ace and a block tied the set at 15. Kaycey Cermin answered the run with a kill of her own to put the Catamounts up 15-14 but once again the Panthers rebounded with another kill. A blocking error by GSU gave Vervelde a kill to force WCU’s sixth match point and the match ended on a GSU attacking error, 17-15.
Georgia State was led by Eliza Zachary who had a match-high 22 kills and six blocks. Kitan Ajanaku added 18 kills while hitting a match-high .552. The final Panther in double-figures was Deidra Bohannon who put down 14 kills.
The Catamounts will not have much time to rest as they are back in action tomorrow, Aug. 29. At 1:30 pm and 7:00 pm with matches against Murray State and Fresno State. Georgia State and Fresno State get things started in the Ramsey Center tomorrow at 11:00 am.