BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – No. 6 UNC Asheville defeated No. 3 High Point University, 3-1, in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Big South Volleyball Championship presented by Musco Sports Lighting Thursday evening at Paul Porter Arena on the campus of Gardner-Webb University. The Bulldogs will play No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina Friday night at 7:00pm in the semifinals, their second consecutive appearance in the semifinals.
UNC Asheville clinched the fourth set, 25-16, to become the first No. 6 seed to advance to the semifinals since 2010. Asheville used a balanced attack to thwart High Point’s offense. The Panthers took an early lead in the final set during Annemarie Chin’s serve. The Bulldogs battled back to tie the score and an ace from Rachel Wells let Asheville regain the lead at 9-8. UNC Asheville went on a 7-0 run and eventually pushed its lead to seven. High Point cut the lead down to four but a strong swing from Holly Shelton and High Point errors put the Bulldogs up, 22-15. A big block from Chelsie Kenley and another service ace from Wells gave UNC Ashville the decisive fourth set win.
High Point forced a fourth set after winning the third, 25-22. Neither team enjoyed a commanding lead, as UNC Asheville took a two point lead at 12-10 only to see High Point answer right back. Kenley and Meredith Foster put away crucial kills to give the Bulldogs a 15-11 advantage. The Panthers’ rallied back with four unanswered points, and regained the lead at 19-18 after a kill from Kristin Heldt. Both teams battled before Heldt ended the set with a kill.
UNC Asheville jumped to a 1-0 lead after winning the first set, 25-22. While High point began to pull away in the opening set on Maddie Simpson’s serve and big defensive plays to go ahead 7-3, Asheville shifted momentum its way with an ace from Jamie Dorfman. Wells, the Bulldogs’ libero, made key digs to keep Asheville alive. A kill by Anna Moore allowed UNC Asheville take the lead at 20-19. High Point regained the lead at 22-21, but a service error and attack error put UNC Asheville back ahead, 23-22. The Bulldogs clinched the opening set with a Foster kill.
The Bulldogs won the second set, 25-22 to take a 2-0 advantage. The two teams went back and forth before the Bulldogs capitalized on High Point’s errors to take a 15-11 lead. The Panthers made a 5-0 run during Molly Barlow’s serve to regain the lead at 16-15. Service errors plagued both teams late in the set, and UNC Asheville turned up its offense with a Christine Lakatos kill to make the score 21-18. High Point cut the margin to one, but a swing by Shelton put the Bulldogs at set point. Another High Point error gave UNC Asheville the second set.
UNC Asheville was led offensively by Lakatos, who posted 16 kills and earned 17 points for the Bulldogs. Wells led Asheville’s defensive efforts by recording 29 digs. Heldt spearheaded High Point’s offense with 14 kills, while Chin anchored the back row with 39 digs.
UNC Asheville improves to 12-19 on the year, while High Point falls to 20-11. UNC Asheville will be making its 15th appearance in the Big South Volleyball Championship semifinals on Friday evening.
UNC Asheville Head Coach Frederico Santos:
“I think our team served really well today. That was one of our strategies today. Credit to our kids, they really followed through with the game plan. I’m really proud of the way they rebounded after a tough end of the season. We’re still in it and we still have everything to play for.”
High Point Head Coach Jason Oliver:
“All the credit goes to Asheville. They came out with a great crowd and a ton of support. We threw everything we had at them but couldn’t make anything work. They sided out really well and it was a major difference in the match.”