CULLOWHEE, N.C. - The Western Carolina volleyball team began its first win streak of the season Tuesday night as the Catamounts swept mountain-rival UNC Asheville, 3-0. The 3-0 victory is the second-straight for the Catamounts who defeated Southeastern Louisiana by the same score last Saturday. WCU used a balanced attack led by freshman Gabby Gray and a dominating defense that featured 10 blocks and 57 digs over the three sets.
Gray picked up 13 kills on 38 attacks while picking up 13 digs and a solo block. The double-double is the first of Gray's young career in Cullowhee. Sophomore Aleah Keaton came up just shy of double-figures as she tallied nine kills on 18 attacks and had a team-high five blocks including one solo.
Freshman MaKenzie White continued the youth movement for the Catamounts as she had eight kills on 15 attacks and tied Keaton for the blocks lead with five. Sophomore Abigail Veit, who came into the match leading the Catamounts in kills per set, had seven kills and seven digs in the victory.
Senior Katie O'Connor, who is within striking distance of the WCU program record for block assists in a career, tallied six kills and four block assists. O'Connor is now just two block assists away from tying the program record at 322 which is held by former Catamount Sara Komosinski (2000-03).
Senior setter Jo-Leigh VerVelde is quickly returning to her dominating form as she had 31 assists over the three sets and led the Catamounts with 16 digs for her third double-double of the season. The Oostburg, Wis., native also had three blocks in the match.
The Catamounts dominated in the opening set in route to a 25-16 victory. The second set was much tighter but a late 6-1 run gave the Catamounts a hard-fought 25-22 win. WCU led the third set wire-to-wire to take a 25-20 clinching victory.
The win gives WCU a 3-7 record this season while the Bulldogs of UNC Asheville dropped to 2-6.
UNCA did not have a hitter reach double-figuires but Ansley Rooks, Cara Guthrie and Ava Venema each tallied eight kills in the match. Guthrie dominated the Catamounts last season as UNC Asheville won 3-0. She had a match-high 19 kills in the victory but WCU held her well below her average this season.
WCU hit .206 as a team while holding the Bulldogs to a sub-.100 hitting percentage at .081.
The Catamounts will now make a return trip to Alabama as WCU competes in the Fight Like Hal Memorial Invitational hosted by UAB Sept. 15-16.