Volleyball team dominates UNC-Asheville Volleyball Classic

The Western Carolina volleyball team traveled to Asheville on August 31 to take part in the two-day UNC-Asheville Volleyball Classic. With their first wins of the year, the team dominated the event, sweeping UNCA and USC Upstate three games to none and beating Kennesaw State three games to one. The Cats started off the tourney on day one against their mountain rivals and the host UNCA Bulldogs. The Cats would win three tough games against the Bulldogs by scores of 30-22, 30-21, and 30-27. Senior Meredith Harmon led Western to victory as she finished with 11 kills. Liz Rondone returned from injury for WCU and helped out with 21 digs. The Cats used a 6-2 run in the first game to help propel them to victory. The run pushed the Cats ahead at 20-16, but UNCA would climb back to within two at 22-20. Western shut the door, though, as they finished with an 8-2 run to win the game. Western would post a .242 hitting percentage in the second game to win easily at 30-21. The third game, however, was very difficult. The Cats used the momentum from the first two games to build a big 24-17 lead and looked to have the game and match in control. The Bulldogs had other thoughts and they came back and tied the game with a 9-2 run. Western regained their composure and finished out the game and match as they scored three straight points to pull ahead 29-26. After a UNCA point, freshman Ali Rook finished off the game and match with a kill. With their first win of the season behind them, the Cats moved on to face USC Upstate and Kennesaw State on Saturday. USC Upstate gave the Cats all they could handle before falling in all three games by a score of 30-26, 30-26, and 31-29. Rondone led the way in the match as she recorded 17 digs, while Jelena Jakovjevic had 15 kills. Harmon and Kara Lynzee Brooks also recorded double-digit kills as Harmon had 11 while Brooks had 10. Harmon finished with a .524 attack percentage. WCU started off hot in game one with a 6-0 lead out of the gate. Western would eventually stretch the lead to 20-10, but USC Upstate would fight and get back into the game. Upstate would outscore WCU 16-10 over the rest of the game, but this effort wasn’t enough. Upstate used the closing momentum of game one to open up game two with a 4-0 lead. WCU struck back with three straight points and the game would be close until WCU took a 19-18 lead. From that point, WCU would outscore Upstate 4-1 to gain a little daylight at 23-19. The Cats would end up winning by four. Game three was the most difficult game as the action see-sawed back and forth. Neither team would lead by more than three points in game three. The action eventually reached a peak at 29-29, but Harmon recorded a kill for the 30th point while Rondone served an ace for the game-winner. The Classic didn’t get any easier as the Cats would face their toughest opponent, Kennesaw State, in the finals. Kennesaw State was the only team to take Western to four games as WCU won 30-22 in game one, 30-14 in game two, lost 30-22 in game three, and won 30-23 in game four. Rondone led the way once again as she had 12 digs. Jakovjevic, Harmon, and Rook would each record 11 kills. WCU used a 7-2 run early in game one to take a controlling 11-4 lead. The Cats would stretch the lead to as much as 11 points before winning by 8. Game two was even worse as the Cats started off the game with a 10-4 run. A 10-2 run would push the lead to 20-6. The Cats would end up winning by a huge margin of 16 points. The big victory may have got the Cats off their game though, as Kennesaw State came back from the embarrassing game two loss to win game three. The game was back and forth with neither team leading by more than three until Kennesaw State took a controlling 19-15 lead. Kennesaw would push the lead up to seven points from there at 22-15, before winning by eight. The Cats would redeem themselves by using an 8-3 run to finish off game four and win the game, match, and tournament. Jakovjevic, a freshman outside hitter, would win tournament MVP as she finished with 26 kills over the last two matches. The senior Harmon and sophomore Katie Hennessey would also make the all-tournament team. The Cats would improve to 3-3 on the year with the three wins.