CHARLESTON, S.C. - With the 2017 Southern Conference Championship just around the corner, the Western Carolina volleyball team swept The Citadel 3-0 on the road Friday night to close out its regular season. WCU had already wrapped up the No. 7 seed for the upcoming championship which will be held inside the Ramsey Center on the campus of Western Carolina.
WCU closes out the regular season with an 11-18 mark overall and a 6-10 record in league action. The Bulldogs fall to 8-24 overall and 2-13 in Southern Conference play.
The Catamounts used a balanced offensive attack with its top five student-athletes registering at least five kills. Senior Katie O’Connor continued her strong play of late as she had a team-high nine kills in the victory to go along with a pair of blocks. O’Connor picked up her nine kills on just 14 swings for an impressive .643 hitting percentage.
Freshmen Gabby Gray and MaKenzie White and sophomore Aleah Keaton all picked up seven kills in the match. Gray added four digs to her kills while White had three digs and three blocks. Keaton complimented her kills with a team-high five blocks including one solo stop.
Senior setter Jo-Leigh VerVelde once again stuffed the stat sheet with five kills, 30 assists, 12 digs and three blocks. The Oostburg, Wis., native also had WCU’s lone service ace. Sophomore libero Meagan Sanchez added nine digs as well.
The Citadel boasted the only two hitters in double-figures as Sharlissa De Jesus had 16 kills and Moriah smith added 12.
WCU compiled a .259 hitting percentage while holding the Bulldogs to a .156 mark. WCU limited its hitting errors to just 13 while taking advantage of The Citadel’s 27 errors in the match.
The opening set was a highly contested affair with both teams not backing down. The Citadel tried to make a late push and opened up a 23-21 lead but three-straight points from the Catamounts forced the first set point of the match. A service error by WCU would end that threat but after an attack error by The Citadel the Catamounts faced their second set point of the match at 25-24. A kill by De Jesus kept the Bulldogs’ hope alive but back-to-back errors by The Citadel ended the set 27-25 in favor of WCU.
The second set was a much different story with the Catamounts jumping out to a 12-6 lead and not looking back. The Catamounts held a somewhat comfortable margin most of the period and went on to win the set 25-19.
After the halftime break, the third set reverted back to the opening period as both teams battled until the end. With the set tied at 22, three-straight attack errors from the Bulldogs closed out the match giving WCU a 25-22 victory.
The Catamounts will now begin their preparation for the 2017 Southern Conference Championships. WCU will face the No. 2 seed next Friday, Nov. 17 at 5 pm inside the Ramsey Center.