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Seahawks Battle Back To Bite Bulldogs

Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications  
Release: 10/11/2011
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Senior Kelsey Bendig dished out 31 assists and added 10 digs against The Citadel for her sixth double-double of the season Tuesday
View larger Courtesy: Joe Browning

Senior Kelsey Bendig dished out 31 assists and added 10 digs against The Citadel for her sixth double-double of the season Tuesday

CHARLESTON, South Carolina - Sophomore Christi Laite tallied a team-high 14 kills to lead UNCW to a 3-2 (25-15, 22-25, 22-25, 25-22, 17-15) victory over The Citadel in collegiate volleyball action Tuesday at the McAlister Field House.

The Seahawks improved to 9-13 overall with their second straight five-set victory while the Bulldogs dropped to 7-12 on the season. UNCW returns to action Saturday when it hosts Georgia State in a 2 p.m. Colonial Athletic Association matinee.

"I have to give The Citadel credit, they were ready to battle and we played a little complacent after the first set," said UNCW Head Coach Amy Bambenek. "I was pleased with how we responded to the challenge and was happy we were able to come out on top tonight."

Laite's performance highlighted a balanced UNCW attack that saw five players record seven or more kills in the match as the Seahawks combined for 54 kills and a .140 hitting percentage. Senior Kelsey Bendig dished out 31 assists and added 10 digs for her sixth double-double of the season. Reigning CAA Defensive Player-of-the-Week sophomore Courtney Porter tallied a match-best six total blocks and added eight kills on a .400 attack clip in an all-around effort.

Junior Kaona Mercer notched a match-best 19 kills and freshman Amanda Rudnik added nine for The Citadel, who teamed up for 52 spikes and a .104 attack clip during the evening. Junior Alexa Dahlstrom dished out a match-best 38 assists while Rudnik led three Bulldogs in double-figure digs with a match-high 16.

The Seahawks never trailed in the first set, racing out to an early 5-1 lead and later building their cushion to as many as 10 on their way to a 25-15 opening-set victory.

UNCW once again built a large lead in the second set, using a 10-1 run midway through the frame to produce a 14-6 edge. The Citadel fought back, however, scoring 13 of the next 18 points to knot the score at 19-all. The two sides quickly traded points when a kill by Farrell broke a 20-all tie and sparked the Bulldogs to a 5-2 spurt and a 25-22 decision.

The third set saw the two sides battle back and forth through a total of seven ties and two lead changes until, trailing 14-13, a kill by Dahlstrom ignited the Bulldogs on a 9-2 run that would give them a 22-16 cushion. UNCW would pull within two later in the fame, 24-22, but a Seahawks attack error would give The Citadel a 25-22 win.

UNCW jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead early in the fourth set and held a 13-9 edge when a kill by Mercer started a 6-0 spurt that would give the Bulldogs ahead, 15-13. The two sides exchanged points until, with the score tied at 19-all, a kill by Porter sparked the Seahawks to score six of the next nine points and record a 25-22 victory.

In the decisive frame, the Seahawks took a 4-2 lead, only to see the Bulldogs score five of the next six points to go out in front, 7-5. The Citadel held a 10-7 edge later in the set when three straight errors evened the score at 10-all. The Bulldogs quickly retook the lead, 13-11, before a kill by Laite and an error leveled the set at 13-all. The teams traded points before kill by Kline and a block by Bendig and Porter broke a 15-all deadlock and gave UNCW a 17-15 decision.

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