Nov. 20, 2009

*Courtesy of Wingate Athletics

Wingate, North Carolina - The number 24 Wingate University volleyball team opened the 2009 NCAA Division II Southeast Regional with a 3-0 victory over Tusculum College Friday night in Cuddy Arena. The number one seed Bulldogs won with set scores of 25-13, 25-12 and 25-13.

With the victory, Wingate improves to 35-1 overall. The Bulldogs will face Carson-Newman College Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the regional semi-finals. Tusculum concludes its season 18-15 overall. Wingate has now won 23 consecutive matches, and advances to the Regional Semifinals for the second straight year.

"We are happy to be moving on to Saturday, and our team realizes we will need to play significantly better to win tomorrow," head coach Shelton Collier says. "We had a great crowd, and a great environment, and we are excited about the chance to get to the finals here, and possibly the Elite Eight."

Junior middle blocker Stormi Gale (Richmond, Texas) led the Wingate attack with 14 kills, to go along with seven digs and four blocks. Junior outside hitter Lauren Billo (Orland Park, Ill.) added eight kills, while sophomore outside hitter Janice Ehorn (Orange, Conn.) chipped in with five kills. Junior setter Amanda Clark (Timberlake, N.C.) handed out 17 assists, while sophomore libero Maggie Malone (Chicago, Ill.) collected 20 digs.

Freshman outside hitter Bailee Price (Fort Wayne, Ind.) led the Pioneers with six kills. Senior outside hitter Holli Cadenhead (Van Vleck, Texas) added four kills. Senior setter Gina Coffaro (Cincinnati, Ohio) notched nine assists and 10 digs, while freshman outside hitter Sam Underwood (Muncie, Ind.) led Tusculum with 13 digs.

An ace from senior defensive specialist Brittany Horner (Roxboro, N.C.) put Wingate on top 14-9 in the first set. Three consecutive kills from Billo gave the Bulldogs a 22-11 lead. The advantage would remain in double figures the rest of the way, with freshman middle blocker Grace Krauser (Louisville, Ky.) capping the set with a kill.

A pair of blocks from Krauser gave the Bulldogs a 12-5 lead in the second set. The Pioneers cut it to six on a pair of Wingate errors. The Bulldogs answered with five straight points to take a 17-7 lead. Freshman outside hitter Katie Handy (Palos Verdes, Calif.) had a kill and a block in the run, while Billo capped it with an ace. Kills from Gale and Clark, along with a block from Gale and senior middle blocker Megan McVicker (Mercer, Pa.) made it 23-10. The Bulldogs capped the second set on kills from Gale and Billo.

Wingate reeled off six consecutive points to take a 17-10 lead in the third set. Tusculum had four errors in the spurt, while Krauser capped it with an ace. A 4-0 Wingate run made it 21-11, capped by a kill from Ehorn. The Bulldogs finished the match on a kill from Billo, followed by an ace from Gale.

Wingate hit .183 for the match, with 37 kills against 16 errors in 115 attacks. The Pioneers had 17 kills against 21 errors, for a hitting percentage of -.037. The Bulldogs had 10 aces, led by Horner with four.

The Bulldogs will face Carson-Newman College at 7 p.m. in the second semi-final match of the day on Saturday. Wingate and Carson-Newman have met three times already this year, with the Bulldogs winning all three meetings. The last time the teams met, Wingate won 3-1 in the Food Lion SAC Championship match last Sunday.