Boiling Springs, N.C. – For the first time since the 2016 season, the USC Upstate volleyball team has won four matches in a row after defeating the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs 3-1 on Friday evening in Big South action from Paul Porter Arena.
USC Upstate improves to 11-15 overall and 6-5 in the Big South while Gardner-Webb falls to 7-17 on the season and 1-10 in conference play.
The Spartans won the match by scores of 26-24, 21-25, 25-16 and 25-15.
STATS OF THE MATCH
- USC Upstate held a .256-.126 advantage over the Runnin' Bulldogs in team hitting percentage and 9.0-8.0 in blocks.
- The Spartans hit a match-high .333 in the third set as well as .297 in the first and .296 during the fourth.
- USC Upstate also led 58-41 in kills, 55-40 in assists and 56-37 in digs.
- Emily Russell led the Spartans offensively after setting a new career-high with 19 kills and was one of three players to finish with 10 or more in the match.
- Gloria Ikenegbu contributed 14 kills and Lily Dempsey increased her double-digit streak to six consecutive matches with 11.
- Madison Haake dished out 47 assists.
- Payton Duncan (15), Mikenzie Young-Mullins (12) and Lauren Phillips (10) all had 10 or more digs.
- Kylee Garrison had a team-leading 14 kills for GWU.
- Amanda Sahm (20) and Abbey Sprinkle (14) combined for 34 assists.
- Charissa Coleman contributed 15 digs.
- The match featured 16 ties and four lead changes.
- Set One: The teams exchanged the first eight points before Gardner-Webb committed two straight errors to give USC Upstate a 6-4 lead. The Runnin' Bulldogs followed with an 8-3 run to take a 12-9 lead. The Spartans then scored five of the next six points to go ahead 14-13 on a kill by Ikenegbu. Another attack error by Gardner-Webb later gave USC Upstate a 22-19 advantage, forcing the Runnin' Bulldogs into a timeout. Gardner-Webb came back a few plays later to tie the score at 24-24. The Spartans scored the last two points off Russell's kill and a combination block from Russell and Haake to win the set 26-24.
- Set Two: Ikenegbu put the score at 3-3 to begin the second set with her kill before the Runnin' Bulldogs used a 5-1 run to go in front 8-4. Gardner-Webb would take a five-point advantage twice midway with the last coming at 17-12 off a combination block. The Runnin' Bulldogs held their largest lead at 23-17. USC Upstate made a late charge and trimmed its deficit down to three points two times including 24-21 on a kill by Russell. Gardner-Webb won the set on the following play.
- Set Three: The Spartans recorded the first four points and began the set on a 10-4 run capped by a kill from Russell. The Runnin' Bulldogs cut the lead down to four, 13-9, but USC Upstate answered with the next four points to increase its lead to 17-9 on a GWU attack error. Gardner-Webb would get as close as five points at 20-15. The Spartans closed on a 5-1 run to capture the set 25-16 after securing the last three points.
- Set Four: For the second straight set, USC Upstate tallied the first four points to hold a 4-0 advantage. The Runnin' Bulldogs posted an 8-3 run and trailed 8-7 off a Spartan service error. USC Upstate broke the set open courtesy of a 12-3 run and took a 20-10 lead off two consecutive attack errors. The Spartans maintained a 10-point lead two more times with the last coming at 24-14 on Russell's kill. Russell picked up a kill on the next play to give USC Upstate the 25-15 set win and 3-1 victory in the match.
- The Spartans head to Rock Hill, S.C. on Saturday afternoon for a 2 p.m. match against the Winthrop Eagles.
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