BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Senior Katie O'Connor became the Western Carolina volleyball program record holder for block assists in a career Friday as she passed former Catamount Sara Komosinski (2000-03) in WCU's first match at the Fight Like Hal Memorial Invitational. O'Connor needed just three block assists to set the new mark and she wasted little time as she posted four in WCU's three-set win over New Orleans.
The 3-0 win over UNO was WCU's third-straight 3-0 victory this season marking the longest win streak so far in 2017. The Catamounts took on host UAB Friday night and fell in a hard fought 3-1 match to the Blazers.
O'Connor not only broke the career block assists record against UNO but she also led the team offensively as she tallied a match-high 13 kills on just 20 attacks. She also added a solo block to her total to finish with five blocks overall. After tallying a block assist against UAB, she now has 325 block assists over her four years which tops Komosinski's previous record of 322. She also moved into second on the total blocks career list at WCU with her six blocks on the day. She now sits 79 total blocks behind Komosinski's overall mark of 450. She moved past former Catamount Ramsey Herron (1996-99) who previously held the number two slot.
Freshman Gabby Gray and sophomore Abigail Veit each added eight kills to the team total against UNO. Veit dug up a team-high 13 balls as well while contributing to three blocks including one solo. Freshman Caroline Perret tallied double-digit digs as well with 12 while putting down a trio of service aces.
The Catamounts hit .252 as a team led by O'Connor's .500 performance. The Privateers were held below .100 at .075 while the Catamounts tallied nine blocks as a squad.
The Catamounts opened the match with a dominating 25-15 first set victory and went on to sweep with a 25-20 second set and a 25-14 third set win. The victory improved WCU's record to 4-7 on the year.
Gray and Veit led the attack against the Blazers in the night cap as they each tallied 13 kills in the loss. Veit turned in a double-double with 12 digs to go along with her 13 kills. She also had a team-high three service aces. Gray had eight digs and a block assist to complete her stat line.
Freshman MaKenzie White was third on the team in kills as she had seven over the four sets. She also had a pair of block assists.
VerVelde dished out 38 assists and dig up seven balls while Sanchez led the team with 13 digs.
The Catamounts hit a nearly the same average as the UNO victory at .250 but the Blazers led the way at .283 as a team. The Blazers also won the block battle 7-3. The biggest advantage came in kills as UAB put four athletes in double-figures including Gabby Deshotel who had 17 in the victory. The Blazers tallied 64 total kills while the Catamounts ended up at 45.
UAB won the opening set 25-17 before WCU responded with a 25-18 victory. The third set was close throughout but the Blazers hung on to win 25-20. The fourth set was the most competitive of the day as it came down to the final points as the Blazers took a 25-23 set and match victory.
The loss drops WCU's record to 4-8 on the year while the Blazers improved to 5-8.
The Catamounts will now focus their attention on Mississippi Valley State who they take on Saturday afternoon at 1 pm in the final match of the Fight Like Hal Memorial Invitational.