Cullowhee, N.C. - The Western Carolina volleyball team earned its first Southern Conference victory of the season Saturday afternoon but it was not easy as the Buccaneers of East Tennessee State University gave the Catamounts all they could handle in a five set extravaganza. The Catamounts won the first two set and looked to be on their way to victory but the Buccaneers had other plans as they took the third and fourth sets to force a decisive fifth set. WCU trailed early in the fifth set but a 12-5 run capped off the match giving the Catamounts their third five set victory of the season.
The Catamounts were led by a pair of seniors as Jordan Timmermann and Caitlin Piechota combined for 41 of WCU's 58 kills. Timmermann had 21 kills, 19 digs, two service aces and a solo block. Piechota added 20 kills, 27 digs, two service aces and three blocks.
Freshman Jo-Leigh Vervelde had another solid game picking up seven kills, 27 assists, 21 digs and two blocks. Junior setter Cristina Nazario added 21 assists, 13 digs and a block. Senior Addy George led all blockers with nine stops including two solo. Junior libero Elyssa Mulheron added 17 digs to the effort while senior right-side Brandi Anderson had five kills and six blocks.
WCU won the opening two sets 25-20 and 25-15 before ETSU took the third and fourth sets 25-20 and 32-30. The final set went to the Catamounts 15-11.
Western Carolina improves to 8-11 overall and 1-4 in SoCon play while the Buccaneers fall to 8-13 overall and 2-3 in conference play.
The first set was a see-saw battle until Western Carolina broke a 16-16 tie and won nine of the final 13 points to take the opener, 25-20. Neither team led by more than two points prior to the Catamounts' late run, but with the score knotted at 16, Western Carolina won two straight scores and never turned back from there. The Bucs pulled within a point at 21-20, but Western Carolina won the final four points to complete the win.
Western Carolina led wire-to-wire in the second and captured a 10-point win, 25-15, to take a 2-0 lead in the match. The Catamounts won the first three points and eventually pushed their lead into double-digits when a service ace put Western Carolina ahead, 15-5. ETSU couldn't dig itself out of the deep hole and went into intermission down two sets.
In the third, the Bucs jumped out to a fast start by winning seven of the first 10 points and cruised to the five-point win, 25-20. After leading 7-3, ETSU extended its advantage to five, 12-7, forcing Western Carolina to call a timeout following one of nine kills by Khadijah Wiley. The Catamounts had one last spurt in them as Western Carolina inched within a point (12-11), but the Bucs used a 9-3 run to take a seven-point lead, 21-14. The surge helped push ETSU over the top as the Bucs secured the victory.
The fourth set was a marathon as it featured 12 ties and four lead changes, but after battling back from a four-point deficit and dodging four match points, the Bucs won the final three scores to capture the 32-30 comeback victory. After trailing 18-14 late in the frame, the Bucs were forced to call timeout to regroup. Following the timeout, ETSU slowly chipped away at its deficit and eventually tied it at 24. From there, the closing stages of the set consisted of five ties and three lead changes.
In the fifth set, ETSU controlled the tempo early as the Bucs led 7-4, but Western Carolina didn't fold as the Catamounts rattled off three unanswered points to even the set at seven. The Bucs managed to go up 8-7, but the Catamounts won eight of the final 11 points to hang on for the win.
ETSU was led by Meredith Hardy and Ivey Rice. Hardy had 21 kills and eight blocks while Rice had 20 kills and eight digs.
The Catamounts will not have much time to celebrate as they return to action tomorrow, Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. WCU will host The Citadel inside the Ramsey Center. All fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of Dig Pink.
Dig Pink® Rally is The Side-Out Foundation's trademark name for its fundraising events. All proceeds benefit Side-Out, which in turn awards grants to medical research organizations and entities dedicated to providing compassionate support to breast cancer patients and their families. Your participation gives youths the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of all breast cancer patients.