• Steven Grandy / WCU

WCU volleyball Falls to Samford in SoCon Tournament Semifinals

Southern Conference Player of the Year Merry Gebel recorded her 13th double-double of the season as Western Carolina dropped a hard-fought 3-2 decision to Samford in the SoCon Tournament semifinals on Saturday night inside Timmons Arena. Samford won the match by scores of 22-25, 25-27, 21-25, 25-10, and 11-15.

Samford improves to 18-12, advancing to the title game while WCU drops to 18-12.

Gebel tallied a team-leading 16 kills along with 13 digs. Bailey Hartsough and Livi Weidmann both tallied eight kills, with Hartsough posting 14 digs. Destinee Dorsey was credited with a team-best 20 digs. Sydney Carlson dished out 24 assists followed by Sarah Janourova with 15. Eden Punch and Johnna Robinson both swatted eight blocks. WCU’s 17 total blocks are tied for the sixth-most in a single match in program history.

Kenya McQuirter finished with a match-best 18 kills and was joined in double figures by Gracie Lynn Butler with 14, Kate Wonus with 11, and Greer Golden with 10. Kayla Keshock was credited with a match-best 31 assists while Kate Morgan had a team-best 23 digs.

The Bulldogs opened the match on a 6-2 spurt before the Catamounts trimmed the deficit to one, 11-10, following a block by Robinson and Hartsough. Samford held a 15-12 lead at the media timeout and extended its advantage to 19-14 thanks to a Deaton kill. With the Bulldogs leading 23-19, WCU scored three straight points capped by a Weidmann kill to pull within a point, 23-22. A McQuirter kill gave the Bulldogs set point with a Catamount error closing out the frame.

WCU stormed out to an 11-2 lead in the second set following a Samford error. Weidmann stretch the WCU lead to 17-7 with a kill before the Bulldogs trimmed the Catamount advantage back to six, 19-13. Samford pulled to within six points on three occasions before the Catamounts closed out the set with a Gebel kill followed by a block by Robinson and Weidmann to even the match.

Tied at 15 in the third set, Samford took three of the next four points to lead 18-16. Following a Poling kill which brought WCU within a point, 19-18, the Bulldogs scored four straight points to gain control of the set and closed out the frame with a Butler kill.

Just like in the second set, the Catamounts got off to a fast start in the fourth set, scoring the first five points and taking an 8-2 lead thanks to a block by Poling and Eden Punch. A Weidmann kill extended the WCU lead to 17-7. The Catamounts led by as many as 14 points in the stanza with a Samford error clinching the set.

Tied at four in the fifth set, Samford scored seven of the next eight points to take an 11-5 lead. WCU didn’t go quietly, scoring four straight points as a pair of errors brought WCU to within a point, 12-11. The Bulldogs used consecutive McQuirter kills to gain set point and clinched the match with a Morgan service ace.

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