Panthers Sweep Seahawks In CAA Opener
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
ATLANTA - Despite a season-high 16 kills from freshman Sarah Fitzgerald, the UNCW volleyball team opened Colonial Athletic Association play Saturday with a 3-0 setback (25-17, 25-20, 25-20) to Georgia State at the GSU Sports Arena.
In the league opener for both programs, The Panthers improved to 7-11 overall while the Seahawks dipped to 6-10. UNCW is back in action Sunday with a 2 p.m. non-conference contest at Presbyterian.
"Our team is better than what they showed today," said UNCW Head Coach Amy Bambenek. "Even though we had more kills and more digs than GSU, we put ourselves in a hole with too many attacking errors. Sarah (Fitzgerald) and Jennifer (Mallard) played great and executed our game plan very well. At this point in the season, we cannot waste any more opportunities. We need to be more focused on game days."
Kangwa was the only GSU player to reach double figures in kills as senior Vineece Verdun chipped in six and junior Jamiee Freeman added five for the Panthers, who combined for 27 spikes and a .140 attack percentage for the match. Sophomore Kaylee Mcgrew directed the GSU attack, dishing out a team-high 25 assists.
Verdun and freshman Andrea Ezell tallied six total blocks apiece to highlight a GSU blocking effort that finished with 13 total blocks. Sophomore Emily Averbeck recorded a team-high 16 digs while Mcgrew added nine and Kangwa chipped in eight.
Fitzgerald was joined in double figures by junior Jennifer Mallard, who added 11 kills to highlight a UNCW attack that teamed up for 36 kills but was limited to a (-.008) hitting percentage for the match. Sophomore Haley Collins tallied a match-best 24 digs and senior Kelsey Bendig added six to go along with a match-high 30 assists.
Holding a slim 9-8 lead midway through the first set, a block by Ezell and McGrew sparked a 9-3 GSU run that would give the Panthers a 19-11 lead on their way to a 25-17 opening-frame victory.
GSU never trailed in the second set, scoring the first five points of the frame on their way to building an early 7-2 advantage. The Seahawks would battle back to pull within one, 20-19, later in the set before a kill by freshman Andrea Noe led to a 5-1 GSU spurt and a 25-20 Panthers victory.
In the third set, GSU once again raced to an early lead, scoring five unanswered points to erase a one-point deficit and build an 8-4 advantage. The Panthers would maintain their advantage throughout the rest of the frame, growing their lead to as many as six during the stanza before finishing the set with a 25-20 victory and the match.