Nov. 22, 2008

Courtesy Wingate Athletics

WINGATE, N.C. - The fourth-seeded Catawba College Indians fought back after dropping the first set to defeat the top-seeded Bulldogs of Wingate University 3-1 Saturday night in the semifinals of the 2008 NCAA Division II Southeast Regional volleyball tournament in Cuddy Arena. Catawba won by scores of 17-25, 27-25, 25-22 and 25-19 to improve to 22-10 overall. The Bulldogs end their season at 31-2 overall.

Catawba moves on to face the Armstrong Atlantic University Pirates, who defeated Lincoln Memorial University in the first semi-final match. The Catawba-AASU match will be played Sunday night at 7 p.m. in Cuddy Arena. The Catawba victory snaps a 29-match winning streak for the Bulldogs; the triumph is the first victory for Catawba over Wingate in the last 10 meetings.

Catawba senior outside hitter Melissa Griffith (Williamsburg, Va.) led the attack with 24 kills. She is averaging 6.75 kills per set in the regionals. Senior outside hitter Melissa Powers (Bennett, N.C.) added 14 kills, while freshman outside hitter Shay Meeks (Kings Mountain, N.C.) contributed with 13 kills. Freshman setter Megan Courson (Statesville, N.C.) handed out 48 assists to go along with 12 digs. Catawba Indian junior libero Mai Zoua Lo (Hickory, N.C.) collected 22 digs.

Sophomore outside hitter Lauren Billo (Orland Park, Ill.) led the Wingate attack with 17 kills. Senior outside hitter Kathryn Reddick (Franklinton, N.C.) and sophomore middle blocker Stormi Gale (Richmond, Texas) added 13 kills each. Freshman setter Liz Willis racked up 49 assists and 12 digs, while freshman libero Maggie Malone (Chicago, Ill.) had 22 digs.

"All year long, we won games by winning the critical points at the end," Wingate head coach Shelton Collier says. "In game two and three tonight, Catawba won those (points), which was the difference. We out-hit them and had more digs...but for the first time this season, we lost the serving and passing battle significantly," Collier says. "This (fact) cost us.

"We had a great season," Collier acknowledges. "We came up short of our year-end goal...making it to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight."

A kill from freshman outside hitter Janice Ehorn (Orange, Conn.) gave the Bulldogs a 12-7 lead in the first set. A kill from Meeks, followed by a block from Powers and Meeks cut the lead to two at 13-11. The Bulldogs answered with a 3-0 run to take a 16-11 advantage, capped by back-to-back blocks from Gale and Reddick.

Catawba cut the lead to three when a Wingate error made it 17-14. Ehorn answered with consecutive kills, followed by a pair of kills from Reddick to make the score 21-14 Bulldogs. The lead stayed above six the rest of the way, as sophomore middle blocker Rebecca Bloemer (Louisville, Ky.) finished set one with a kill. Reddick had five kills in five attacks in the first set as the Bulldogs hit .387 in the opening frame.

Two kills from Reddick, along with a kill from Bloemer gave Wingate a 20-13 lead in the second set. A kill from Griffith, followed by a kill from junior middle blocker Jasmine Chunn (East Bend, N.C.) cut the lead to five. A kill from sophomore outside hitter Heather Myklebust (Sugar Land, Texas) gave Wingate a 22-16 lead.

Catawba responded with a kill from Meeks, followed by an ace from Lo. A Bulldog error made it 22-19. Wingate held a 24-21 lead after a kill from Billo. A Wingate error, followed by a kill from Griffith and another Bulldog error tied the frame at 24.

Another kill from Griffith gave Catawba a 25-24 edge; Wingate tied it on a Catawba error. A Bulldog service error, followed by a block from Griffith and Chunn completed the set for the Tribe. Griffith racked up eight kills in the second frame for Catawba.

The third set was tightly contested throughout, as the set featuring 15 ties and five lead changes. A kill from Gale gave Wingate an 18-16 lead. Catawba tied it at 19 on a kill from Meeks. A kill from Griffith gave the Catawba Indians a 21-20 lead, as Gale answered with a kill.

The teams traded points until a kill from Griffith gave Catawba a 23-22 set three lead. Back-to-back Wingate errors clinched the third set for Catawba. Griffith racked up 10 kills in the third frame, while hitting .667. The Tribe hit .447 as a team in the pivotal third set.

A kill from Griffith gave Catawba a 17-12 lead in the fourth set. A kill from Bloemer, followed by a Catawba error made it 17-14. Back-to-back Wingate errors gave Catawba a 20-15 lead. Two kills from Meeks, along with two kills from Powers gave Catawba a 24-16 advantage. Kills from Billo and Reddick, along with a Catawba error cut the lead to 24-19. The Catawba Indians finished the match with a kill from Powers.

Catawba hit .233 for the match, with 56 kills and 19 errors on 159 attacks. Wingate hit .273 for the match with 64 kills and 20 errors in 161 attacks. Powers led the Catawba defense with four block assists; Reddick led the Bulldogs with four block assists and a solo block.