ANNAPOLIS, Maryland – Senior Christi Laite tallied a match-high 15 kills to lead UNCW to a 3-1 (23-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-19) victory over Navy in collegiate volleyball action Friday in the Kristen Dickmann Invitational at the Wesley H. Brown Fieldhouse. It was the season opener for both programs.

Both teams return to action Saturday in the final day of the Kristen Dickmann Invitational. UNCW will face Elon (1 p.m.) and UIC (4 p.m.) while Navy will square off against the Flames (11 a.m.) first before closing out the tournament against the Phoenix (6 p.m.)

“Navy was a great first opponent because they forced us to make a lot of in-game adjustments during the very first set,” said UNCW Head Coach Amy Bambenek. “Once we settled down and minimized our errors we played very well.  I was most pleased with our blocking and defense and we had some high percentage hitting from seniors Christi (Laite) and Courtney (Porter). Our returning players played with composure in every situation, which is exciting to see at this point in the season.”

Laite powered a Seahawks attack that combined to hit .210 for the match, including a .270 clip over the final three frames, and finished with 49 kills. Junior Morgan Kilne joined Laite in double figures with 11 spikes while senior Courtney Porter chipped in nine kills and committed just one error in 17 total attempts for a .471 attack clip.

Sophomore Victoria Phillips dished out 40 assists and added 11 digs while Kiline pitched 15 digs to go along with her 11 kills as both players finished with double-doubles. Sophomore Meredith Peacock recorded seven total blocks and Porter added six, including three solo blocks, as the Seahawks teamed up to record 16 total blocks on the evening.

Junior Alex Cassel notched 11 kills for the Midshipmen, who were held to a .105 hitting percentage for the contest. Freshman Alli Graf tallied a match-high 18 digs while senior Erin Fortner chipped in 14 bumps to go along with her nine kills. Sophomore Alex Karika finished the evening with 37 assists.

After dropping the opening frame, 25-23, the Seahawks took advantage of a 10-3 spurt late in the second set to break a 15-all deadlock and record a 25-18 victory.

UNCW carried the momentum into the third frame as it raced out to an early 6-2 edge before using a 7-1 run later in the frame to cruise to a 25-17 triumph.

The Seahawks never trailed in the fourth set, once again building a quick 6-2 cushion and taking advantage of a  10-6 stretch midway through the stanza to take a 19-11 lead. Navy would respond by tallying seven of the next 11 points to trim the Seahawks advantage to 23-18, but a pair of kills by junior Leah Gagliardi would propel UNCW to a 25-18 victory and the match.

The Seahawks posted a .353 hitting percentage in the decisive frame, led by Laite, who recorded seven without an error in 11 total attempts.