The Western Carolina volleyball squad outlasted East Tennessee State last night for their fourth straight win to open up the season, a mark that has not been matched since 1990.
The Lady Cats (4-0, 1-0) topped Southern Conference foe ETSU in a five-set roller coaster. WCU prevailed 31-29, 30-19, 25-30, 24-30, 15-9.
After jumping to a quick two-game-to-none lead, ETSU awakened in the third game. The Lady Catamounts took the early advantage in the game, winning eight of the first 11 points.
The Lady Bucs would finally answer, however, going on a 27-15 run to end the game. WCU managed only a .091 hitting percentage in that game, their worst mark of the match. East Tennessee kept the pressure on and took the fourth game to draw the match even at two games each.
The Lady Cats finally put ETSU away in the fifth and deciding game, emerging from a 6-6 tie with a five-point run, eventually winning the game 15-9.
Senior Christy Attebery led the team in kills with 24 to go along with 14 digs. Freshman Stephanie Peters, fresh off of her selection to the Catamount Clash II all-tournament team, added 10 kills and 15 digs.
Senior setter Bri-Milan Williams steadied the offense with 58 assists and contributed on defense with 15 digs. Sophomore Pamela Stein had the only other double double with 14 kills and 11 digs.
Head Coach Michelle Hanson was not surprised by the close match and looks to it as a sign of things to come in SoCon competition this season.
“We pretty much expected to go five games with this team, it’s always a battle with them,” she said. “The level of play in this conference has really raised since I’ve been here. With rally scoring, every match will be tight in the conference.”
She also mentioned ETSU began to play really well in the third and fourth games, forcing the match to five games.
“In games one and two, we had good flow,” she said. “In games three and four, ETSU stepped it up a little; I have to give them credit for that. We weren’t as aggressive at the net and didn’t have good ball control.”
Last weekend, the Lady Catamount volleyball squad opened its 2001 season by winning the Catamount Clash II, defeating Virginia Tech 3-0 in the title match. Milan-Williams was named tournament MVP after notching the team’s only double double with 28 assists and 11 digs against the Hokies.
Western battled to take the first game 30-22 despite a hitting percentage of just .114. WCU tightened up the rest of the way, however, improving their percentage to .250 over the final two games to finish off VTU 30-12 and 30-20, respectively.
Peters also earned tournament honors, selected for the all-tournament team after leading the Lady Cats with nine kills in the decisive tournament win. This effort followed her two 19-kill performances in the team’s second match against Gardner-Webb.
WCU topped the Bulldogs Saturday afternoon 3-1. Western jumped out to an early lead in this match, taking the first game 30-17 after outkilling GWU 17-9. Gardner-Webb answered in the second game, however, evening out the match with a 30-26 win.
The Lady Cats then took control of the contest with wins of 30-18 and 30-22 over the final two games, allowing only eight Bulldog kills in each of the games. Additionally, WCU defenders forced Gardner-Webb to hitting percentages of .000 in the third game and .028 in the fourth and final game.
The lady netters opened their season and the tournament with a five-game marathon victory over Evansville, 33-31, 23-30, 24-30, 30-27, 15-12 on Friday evening. Attebury led the squad with 19 kills and 11 digs.
Milan-Williams added 45 assists and 21 digs, while sophomores Stein and Sara Komosinski also had double doubles combining for 23 kills and 23 digs.