Sept. 26, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Behind 90 team digs and 12 team blocks the Western Carolina volleyball team stuffed rival Appalachian State's offense as the Catamounts claimed a 3-1 (25-23, 28-26, 16-25, 25-17) win in the Ramsey Center over the Mountaineers Thursday night in a Southern Conference match.
Cochran paced the defense with a career-high 38 digs. The senior libero entered the weekend leading the SoCon and second in the NCAA in digs pet with a 6.25 average. She saw her season average climb to 6.50 after the match. Her 38 digs are the second highest single-match total in WCU history trailing the school's only 40-match, 41 digs by Liz Rondone against High Point on September 15, 2006. Ironically, Cochran trails only Rondone on the WCU all-time dig list. After tonight's match she stands at 1,822 digs, just 330 shy of Rondone's 2,152 career digs. Thursday was the fourth time this season and eighth time in her career Cochran achieved 30 or more digs in a match. There have been six 30-dig individual performances in the SoCon this season, four of them belong to Cochran.
Adding to the defensive effort for the Catamounts, Paige McConlogue chipped in with her second 20-dig match of the season and ninth of her career with 21 digs. Caitlin Piechota followed with 13 digs. Cochran and McConlogue had several acrobatic digs, and the Catamounts used relentless pursuit to keep multiple rallies alive and give their blockers and hitters a chance at winning points.
Continuing their dominance at the net, middle blockers Addy George and Nicole Ford had eight total blocks and five total blocks, respectively, as the Catamounts collected 12 total team blocks. Of their 15 matches this season, WCU has held a blocking advantage in 11 matches. George recorded her eight total blocks with two solo blocks and six block assists, while all five of Ford's blocks were block assists.
The first set was tightly contested and saw 11 ties and five lead changes. WCU held the largest lead of the match, three points, three times, 11-9, 12-9 and 13-10, only to see App State tie the set at 13. The teams continued the back-and-forth trend until the Catamounts took advantage of a Mountaineer attack error to take a 24-23 lead with a chance at set point. On the ensuing serve, Cristina Nazario landed one of her three aces to give WCU the 25-23 win.
WCU looked like it was in control the second set to the tune of a 19-13 lead, only to see the margin evaporate from a 5-0 App State run as the Mountaineers cut the lead down to 19-18. After the Catamounts took a 24-22, the Mountaineers fought off two set points and took a 25-24 lead creating their own set point opportunity. But WCU stayed alive and the two squads traded the next two points, before the Catamounts broke a tie at 26 on a kill by Jordan Timmermann and claimed the 28-26 set two win off a Mountaineer attack error.
In the In third set, App State led from start to finish as they vaulted out of the ten-minute intermission with a 14-6 lead. There was some dramatics in the set with WCU crawling back to trim the lead down to 16-14 sparked by solid defense, but App State closed the set down as the Mountaineers ended the set with a 9-2 run en route to a 25-16 win.
The fourth set saw the teams reverse roles as the Catamounts sprinted out to a 16-9 lead. WCU never looked back as they ended the set, 25-17, to pick up the 3-1 match win.
Offensively, Timmermann led the charge with 20 kills and .291 hitting percentage. Her 20 kills were one shy of the junior outside hitters' career mark. Piechota followed with 11 kills to earn her sixth double-double of the season and 31st of her career. Nazario handed out 43 assists, her three service aces were a career-high.
With the win, WCU improved to 11-4 on the season and opened SoCon play at 1-0, while App State fell to 9-6 over all and 0-1 in league action. The Catamounts also improve to .500, 16-16, in Cullowhee against the Mountaineers. The win makes it three straight for WCU matching two streaks of the same length already this season.
WCU returns to action Saturday, September 28 at 5 p.m. against Davidson in the Ramsey Center.
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