ASHEVILLE, N.C. - For the second straight year, the UNC Asheville volleyball team rallied to win its home opener.
A year ago, the Bulldogs trailed Gardner-Webb by two sets before storming back to win. Tuesday against Western Carolina, Asheville lost the first two sets 25-23, 25-17 but roared back to win 25-23, 25-21, 15-12.
Holly Shelton led the Asheville (2-7) comeback with a career-high 23 kills and a career- best 17 digs. Anna Moore chipped in 13 kills, while freshman Christine Lakatos had nine kills. Setter Katie Davis had 53 assists and 11 digs. Alex Stewart led the Bulldog defense with 22 digs.
"What a great win," commented Bulldog coach Frederico Santos. "I told them after the second set that we were going to find a way to win this match. And to our kids' credit, they found a way to get it done.
"Holly Shelton had a great match, not just in kills but defense, as well," added Santos. "But this was a true team victory. Everybody contributed. I saw us make some defensive plays that were truly amazing."
Western Carolina (2-5) was led by Caitlin Piechota with 20 kills and 13 digs. Leah Butler finished with 17 kills, while Jordan Timmerman contributed 15 kills and 14 digs.
WCU won the first two sets behind the play of Butler and Piechota. Butler had eight kills in the opening set.
But Asheville quickly rallied in the third set. The Bulldogs led most of the way before fending off WCU comebacks to win 25-23.
The home team was in command of the fourth set as they led from start to finish. The Cats hurt themselves with eight attack errors. Moore had six kills in the set.
In the fifth set, Asheville ran off four straight points early to grab a 4-1 lead. WCU tied the match a 7-7 on a kill from Timmerman. Shelton's 20th kill put the Bulldogs in front for good at 8-7.
Asheville got the lead up to 10-7 but three different times WCU closed to within one point as a Zimmerman kill carved the lead to 13-12.
But Moore got a kill to give the Bulldogs a 14-12 advantage. And Rachel Wells had her only kill of the match on match point to give Asheville the thrilling win.
UNC Asheville plays next in Greensboro at the Spartan-Aggie Invitational this weekend. The Bulldogs play at UNC Greensboro Friday at 7 p.m. and then has two matches at North Carolina A&T on Saturday. Asheville faces American at 11 a.m., followed by a match with the Aggies at 7 p.m.