Volleyball Puts Up Stiff Challenge For #24 Wingate


GREENEVILLE, TN -- Catawba took a set off 24th-ranked Wingate in the semifinals of the 2009 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Volleyball Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Arena, but the top-seeded Bulldogs held off the fourth-seed to earn a spot in the final.  Wingate won by the scores of 28-30, 25-22, 25-19 and 31-29.  The Bulldogs improve to 33-1, while the Catawba Indians fall to 17-11 and will await a potential at-large berth in the NCAA II Tournament. 

Shay Meeks (Kings Mountain, NC/Kings Mountain HS) turned in a career-high effort with 24 kills, but Lauren Billo answered for Wingate with 22 kills and four blocks.  Billo hit at 39%.  Catawba libero Mai Zoua Lo (Hickory, NC/Foard HS) registered a match-high 34 digs, while freshmen Kaitlyn Whitmer (Ferrum, VA/Franklin Co. HS) and Jordan Raye (Boonville, NC/Starmount HS) posted double-doubles.  Whitmer had 14 kills and 16 digs with Raye collecting 16 digs and 41 assists. 

Stormi Gale had a double-double for Wingate with 14 kills and 15 digs.  She also tallied five blocks.  Setter Amanda Clark had 36 assists and 18 digs with libero Maggie Malone recording 30 digs.  Grace Krauser and Rebecca Bloemer also had double-digit kills for the Bulldogs, finishing with 12 and 11, respectively.

Catawba opened strong in the first set.  The Lady Indians hit 45% to lead 11-9 as Meeks delivered six kills in eight swings.  Catawba used a 7-1 run midway through the opening set, including a block and kill by Whitmer, for a 21-15 edge.  Wingate closed within 21-18 then used a 6-1 run which was aided by five Catawba errors to get the Bulldogs to a set point.

Meeks denied two set points with kills then an ace by Jenny Young (Roanoke, VA/Patrick Henry HS) gave the Lady Indians a set point at 26-25.  Krauser and Billo had kills to give Wingate another set point which was denied on a kill by Jasmine Chunn (East Bend, NC/Forbush HS).  Billo answered, but Whitmer had consecutive kills to give the Lady Indians a set point, winning the set on a Bulldog error.  Meeks tallied 10 kills in the set and Lo added a dozen digs.

The second set was even at nine-all after a Whitmer ace, but Wingate used a 6-1 run behind two kills and a block by Billo fore a 15-10 edge.  Down 17-12, Catawba rallied within 17-16 behind a Whitmer kill and a Lo ace.  Jacki Emmanecker had a kill and block to give Wingate a 20-17 lead then Gale had consecutive kills for 22-18 margin.  Gale added two kills for a 24-21 lead and Krauser killed off the final point.

Krauser had two kills and combined for two blocks with Gale as the Bulldogs grabbed quick 7-0 lead in set three.  An ace by Willis had Wingate up 13-5 before Catawba rallied back into the set.  A three-point run made it 13-8 then two kills by Meeks and an ace by Alli Parrish (Zebulon, NC/Smithfield-Selma HS) made the score 16-13.  Wingate used two kills by Bloemer and an ace by Malone to go up 20-14.  Two Bulldog errors followed by a block and kill by Taylor Doss (Boonville, NC/Starmount HS) pulled the Lady Indians within 20-18.  Gale had two kills in the final run which ended on Emmanecker ace.

Wingate pulled out the match in an exciting fourth set.  Whitmer got Catawba off quickly with two kills, but two kills each by Billo and Krauser had Wingate on top 6-3.  The Lady Indians followed with a 7-1 run to lead 10-7.  A five-point run by Wingate was answered by a four-point Catawba run.  Wingate looked to have control, scoring five straight points with two kills from Billo and a block and kill from Bloemer for a 22-17 edge.

Krauser killed a point to give Wingate a 24-20 lead, but Catawba pulled even with four points that included a kill and block by Katie Moran (Northville, MI/Northville HS).  A Meeks kill denied another Wingate match point then kills from Gale and Billo kept Catawba from forcing a fifth set.  Whitmer’s kill pulled Catawba even at 29-29, but Wingate withstood the challenge as Bloemer got a kill and a combo block with Krauser to end the match.

Doss added nine kills and three blocks for Catawba.  Young posted a career-high 25 digs and served two aces.

Box Score

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