CULLOWHEE, N.C. - The Western Carolina volleyball team dropped its quarterfinal match at the 2017 Southern Conference Championship Friday evening to the No. 2 seed ETSU, 3-0, inside the Ramsey Center. The Catamounts fell behind early and were never fully able to get into a rhythm as the Buccaneers earned a date with No. 3 seed UNCG on Saturday.
VerVelde dished out 27 assists and dug up six balls. Sophomore Abigail Veit led the team in digs with 14.
ETSU came out of the gates quick, scoring eight straight points to take an early lead 8-0 lead and forcing Western Carolina to take a timeout. The Catamounts got on the board following the timeout but the Bucs continued to pour it on, pushing their lead to 12-4. ETSU extended the gap to as many as eight again later in the set but the Catamounts responded with three-straight points and pulled within five. Western Carolina then closed the gap to three following a ball-handling error by the Bucs, making it 23-20 ETSU. The Catamounts tacked on two more points, pulling within one but ETSU claimed the next two points to end the Catamounts comeback attempt and take the first set.
The second set started off close with the Catamounts pulling within two thanks to a kill by Gray to make the score 16-14 in favor of the Bucs. ETSU responded with three-straight points, making it a five-point lead and Western Carolina was never able to recover as the Bucs claimed the second set 25-18 and a 2-0 lead in the match.
Following a 10-minute intermission, the Catamounts found themselves in an eight-point hole but a kill by Gray and two hitting errors by the Bucs closed the gap to three. The Catamounts were unable to complete the comeback however and a service ace by All-SoCon first-team member Rylee Milhorn clinched the win for the Bucs.
Milhorn led the Bucs with a double-double, recording 12 kills and 12 digs. Fellow first-team selection Leah Clayton also had a solid game for ETSU, posting seven kills and 15 digs. 2017 Freshman and Libero of the Year Marija Popovic finished the match with 13 digs. As a team, the Bucs finished with a .275 attack percentage.