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  • Steven Grandy / WCU

Volleyball Rallies for Five Set Victory Over Appalachian State

Trailing 2-1 after three sets, the Western Carolina volleyball team battled back to defeat rival Appalachian State 3-2 on Thursday afternoon inside Cassel Coliseum as part of the Hokie Classic hosted by Virginia Tech. The Catamounts won by scores of 21-25, 25-22, 13-25, 25-23, and 15-13.

With the win, the Catamounts improve to 7-4 on the season and will face Virginia Tech, which defeated Norfolk State Thursday evening, on Friday at 5:30 p.m. Appalachian State drops to 6-4.

Merry Gebel led the WCU offense with a season-high 19 kills and also posted her 60th career double-double with 13 digs. Other Catamounts in double figures offensively included Livi Weidmann with 12 kills and Brooklyn Poling with 10. Ali Morris came off the bench and tied her career-high with nine kills, all of which came over the final two sets.

Sydney Carlson also logged her first double-double of the season with 26 assists and 13 digs. Sarah Janourova tallied a career-best 32 assists, surpassing her previous best of 26 at Davidson last season. Libero Destinee Dorsey tallied a team-best 16 digs with Johnna Robinson swatting a team-high three blocks.

Sarah Missroon led four Appalachian State players in double figures with 14 kills. McCall Denny (13), Maya Winterhoff (13), and Lulu Ambrose (11) also finished with double figure kills. Sophie Cain, Cierra Huntley, and Kenady Roper each had 15 digs. Cain and Sam Bickley contributed 25 and 24 assists, respectively.

Trailing 10-7 in the opening set, the Catamounts battled back to take a 16-15 lead on a Poling kill. The Mountaineers took five of the next six points for a 20-17 lead. WCU managed to cut the deficit to one point on two occasions before the Mountaineers tallied the final three points to win the opening set.

Tied at 16 in the second set, a kill by Gebel sparked a 5-1 Catamount spurt for a 21-17 advantage. Another Gebel kill gave WCU set point at 24-19 before the Mountaineers tallied three straight points to cut the WCU lead down to two points. The Catamounts closed out the set with a combined block by Gebel and Robinson to even the match at one.

Appalachian State grabbed a 6-3 advantage in the third set and increased its lead during the middle stages of the stanza to grab a 2-1 lead in the match.

A Morris kill gave the Catamounts an early 9-6 advantage in the fourth set before the Mountaineers pulled ahead 11-10 after a Catamount error. Neither team led by more than two points during the middle portion of the set. With the score tied at 23, a Morris kill gave the Catamounts set point and the Knoxville, Tenn., native clinched the set with another kill to push the match to the fifth. Overall, the tightly-contested fourth set featured eight lead changes and 15 ties

The Catamounts led 8-5 at the midpoint of the fifth set but App State cut the Catamount deficit to one, 9-8 following a WCU error. Tied at 12, the Catamounts went ahead for good on the strength of consecutive kills by Morris and Robinson to prompt a Mountaineer timeout. After a kill by Missroon brought ASU back to within a point, Morris closed out the match with a kill.

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