Volleyball Falls in SAC Final in Four Sets to Wingate


HARROGATE, TN -- Catawba played top-seed Wingate three tight sets, but the Bulldogs were able to claim the 2011 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Volleyball Tournament Championship with a four-set win on Sunday afternoon at Mars Gym on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University.  Grace Krauser (Louisville, KY) tied a career-high with 16 kills to lead the 14th-ranked Bulldogs to 25-20, 21-25, 25-22 and 25-12 victory and its sixth consecutive tournament title.

The Bulldogs improve to 30-0 overall and will likely serve as the host for next weekend’s NCAA II Southeast Regional.  Catawba has its 11-match winning streak snapped, falling to 23-7.  The Lady Indians should receive an at-large bit to the regional tournament.  The winning streak was the longest for Catawba since a 13-match streak in 2002.

Krauser hit .348 on the afternoon, adding seven digs and two blocks. Anna Hilton (Hickory, NC) added 13 kills, 12 digs, five assists and three blocks.  Cory McGowan (Pittsburgh, PA) had 12 kills and a season-high 19 digs for the Bulldogs.  Setter Liz Willis (Raleigh, NC) had 52 assists and 12 digs, while libero Maggie Malone (Chicago, IL) collected 24 digs.

Willis was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Malone and Krauser join her on the All-Tournament team.  Catawba’s Shay Meeks (Kings Mountain, NC/Kings Mountain HS) and Jenny Young (Roanoke, VA/Patrick Henry HS) also earned All-Tournament honors. Tusculum’s Sam Underwood (Muncie, IN) and Mars Hill’s Marissa Wixson (Spring, TX) rounded out the team.

Meeks led the Catawba attack with 16 kills to go along with nine digs.  Kaitlyn Whitmer (Ferrum, VA/Franklin Co. HS) added 13 kills and 18 digs.  Setter Jordan Raye (Boonville, NC/Starmount HS) had 38 assists, 14 digs and six kills and Young piled up a match-high 42 digs.

Catawba took a 9-6 lead in the opening set on a Meeks kills.  Wingate rallied back to take a 12-11 lead on a McGowan kill. The Indians scored the next four points, taking a 15-12 advantage.  The spurt was capped by an ace from Raye and block from Whitmer. 

Catawba led 17-13 after a Wingate error, but the Bulldogs reeled off the next five points to take a one-point lead, highlighted by two kills each from Murach and Krauser.  Meeks tied it at 19 with a kill, but the Bulldogs pushed the lead back to two on a pair of Krauser kills. Another Meeks kill trimmed the deficit to one at 21-20 then Wingate responded with the final four points of the set.  McGowan and Hilton contributed kills, while a Catawba error finished the opening frame.

Kills from Meeks and Emily Richardson (Salem, VA/Salem HS) put Catawba on top 12-5 in the second set.  A kill and a block from Krauser cut it to three at 14-11.  The Lady Indians used a 3-0 run to take an 18-13 lead, getting kills from Meeks and Whitmer.  A McGowan kill and Catawba error got Wingate to within three at 22-19, but Raye answered with a kill, while a Wingate error made it 24-20.  Whitmer capped the second set with a kill to tie the match.

Two kills and a block from Meeks highlighted a 6-0 run to give Catawba a 14-10 lead in the third set.  The Bulldogs fought back, getting a Hilton kill to get within one at 18-17.  The Lady Indians took a 20-18 advantage on a Wingate error, but kills from Krauser and McGowan, along with a Catawba error put the Bulldogs on top 21-20.

Meeks answered with a kill to tie it at 21.  A Krauser kill, followed by a kill from Lexi Potter (North Liberty, IA) made it 23-21.  A Wingate error trimmed the lead to one, but Potter pushed it back to two with another kill.  A Catawba error capped the third set, putting Wingate on top 2-1 in the match.

The fourth frame was tight early, with a Meeks kill getting Catawba to within one at 9-8.  The Bulldogs answered with a 6-0 run to take a seven-point lead and gain the momentum.  McGowan had a kill and a block in the flurry, while Willis finished it with an ace.  A Whitmer kill trimmed the lead to six at 16-10 then Wingate reeled off seven consecutive points to make it 23-10.  Hilton, Krauser and McGowan started the flurry with kills, while Janice Ehorn (Orange, CT) had a pair of kills to end the spurt.  The Bulldogs would go to back to Ehorn, who finished the match with back-to-back kills.

Wingate hit .219 on the afternoon, with 62 kills and 20 errors in a season-high 192 attacks.  Catawba, who led the SAC in the regular season with a .252 hitting percentage, was held to .144 on Sunday, with 48 kills and 21 errors in 188 attacks. 

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Volleyball Team Photo