MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Despite the return of senior setter Jo-Leigh VerVelde, the Western Carolina volleyball team dropped its opening match of the ISATAP Collegiate Cup Invitational hosted by Alabama State University. The Dolphins of Jacksonville University handed the Catamounts their sixth loss of the season with a 3-1 victory Friday evening.
Freshman Gabby Gray was the lone Catamount to reach double-figures in kills as she tallied 11 in the setback. She was just one dig shy of a double-double as she dug up nine balls over the four sets. VerVelde returned to the court after missing four matches due to injury and led the team with 31 assists while tallying a double-double with 14 digs. Sophomore libero Meagan Sanchez was the only Catamount to top VerVelde in digs as she collected 15.
The Dolphins placed three hitters in double-figures in kills led by Cristina Finan who had a match-high 16 kills while collecting 14 digs.
The loss drops Western Carolina’s record to 1-6 on the season while Jacksonville improved to 3-4.
Jacksonville jumped all over the Catamounts in the opening set as they cruised to a 25-12 victory. WCU came back to battle the Dolphins in the second set. WCU opened the second stanza by taking an early 5-1 lead. Jacksonville would take its second lead of the period, after an early 1-0 lead, at 17-16. The two squads would go back-and-forth down the stretch but with the Catamounts up 24-20, Jacksonville went on a 4-0 run to force extra points. Following a WCU timeout, Gray and Veit put down back-to-back kills to capture a 26-24 victory.
The third set opened with a quick 7-1 run by the Dolphins and the Catamounts were never able to tie the set up as JU hung on for a 25-20 win. WCU led early in the fourth set but both teams were neck-and-neck through the middle portion. With the set tied at 15, Jacksonville went on a 10-1 run to close out the match 25-16 and claim its third win of the season.
WCU will now face host Alabama State and Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday as the Catamounts try to halt their six-match losing streak.