ANNAPOLIS, Maryland – Led by Tournament MVP Christi Laite and fellow All-Tournament Team selections Courtney Porter and Meredith Peacock, the UNCW volleyball team defeated Elon, 3-0 (25-17, 25-16, 25-19), and UIC, 3-1 (25-21, 25-16, 24-26, 25-21), to claim the Kristen Dickmann Invitational Saturday at the Wesley A. Brown Fieldhouse on the campus of the United States Naval Academy.

The Seahawks improved to 3-0 on the season as they claimed their second in-season tournament title under fifth-year Head Coach Amy Bambenek. UNCW returns to action Sept. 6 as it faces Houston Baptist at 12:30 p.m. in action in the FIU Volleyball Tournament in Miami.

“I am so proud of this team and the effort and determination they put into this weekend,” said Bambenek. “Christi had a fantastic match against UIC.  I'm happy we were able to play in front of her hometown on her birthday weekend and for her to earn MVP honors. Victoria (Phillips) did a great job all weekend distributing the ball and ran floor like a veteran and our blocking was excellent the whole tournament. Meredith and Courtney did a great job protecting the net and I'm proud that they were both able to earn all tournament team honors.”

Against the Phoenix, UNCW used a balanced but potent attack that saw five players record six or more kills as the team combined to hit .310 for the match. Laite and Porter tallied seven spikes each while three players chipped in six kills apiece. Sophomore Victoria Phillips dished out 31 assists and finished with seven digs.  Sophomore Lindsay Hartmann tallied a match-high 14 digs and senior Haley Collins chipped in 12. 

Senior Cali Estes tallied a match-high 11 kills for Elon, who was limited to a 126 attack clip for the contest. Sophomore Ana Nicksic tallied 21 assists and senior Maggie Reichard recorded 12 digs.

Trailing 6-3 early in the opening frame, UNCW battled back, taking a lead moments later before using a 12-5 spurt midway through the set to break open a 15-12 contest and record a 25-17 triumph. 

The Seahawks never trailed in the second set, beginning the frame with a 6-2 advantage. Elon pulled within one, 9-8, but UNCW grabbed a seven-point edge, 15-8, and talled nine of the final 13 points of the set to take a 25-16 win and a 2-0 lead.

In the third set, UNCW used a 7-3 spurt to stretch a 6-4 edge into a 13-7 cushion, only to see Elon battle back later in the frame to make a two-point contest, 19-17. The Seahawks kept the Phoenix from getting any closer, however, tallying six of the last eight points to take a 25-19 victory and the match.  

“Our victory against Elon was an exciting and decisive win for our program against a future CAA opponent,” said Bambenek. “Offensively, we were very balance which is something we have been working towards in practices and it was great to see that executed today.”

 

Versus the Flames, Laite matched her career high with 22 kills and finished with a .300 hitting percentage to pace the Seahawks attack. Peacock joined Laite in double figures with 10 spikes to go along with a match-best seven total blocks. Phillips dished out 41 assists.

Junior Sara Sternard and freshman Melissa Nava tallied 12 kills apiece and junior Molly McCoy chipped in 10 to lead the Flames, who were held to a .101 hitting percentage for the match. Senior Marykate Imrie handed out 42 assists while Kara Johnson and Justine Garcia posted 11 digs each.

UNCW never trailed in the first set, opening up a quick 7-2 lead before rattling off six unanswered points later in the frame to build a 17-9 cushion. UIC responded to the Seahawks spurt with 10 of the next 13 points to make it a 21-19 contest, but the Seahawks kept the Flames from getting any closer, registering four of the last six points to take a 25-21 decision.

The second set saw UNCW utilize a 13-3 run that erased a 3-0 deficit and gave the Seahawks a 13-6 cushion. UNCW would cruise the rest of the way, leading by as many as 11 on its way to a 25-16 victory and a 2-0 lead.

UIC would extend the match with a 26-24 victory in a back-and-forth third set that saw the Flames tally three unanswered points to battle back from match point.

In the fourth set, UNCW trailed 19-15 when a kill by Laite sparked the Seahawks to a 10-2 spurt gave the Seahawks a 25-21 victory and the match.