Volleyball Grinds Out 5-Set Win Over LMU to Advance to Regional Semis


WINGATE, NC -- Catawba College senior outside hitter Shay Meeks (Kings Mountain, NC/Kings Mountain HS) piled up 21 kills to lead the fourth-seeded Indians past number five seed Lincoln Memorial University in NCAA Southeast region quarterfinal action Friday evening in Cuddy Arena.  Catawba won by scores of 25-15, 20-25, 25-21, 21-25 and 15-11 to improve to 24-7 overall and advance to the regional semifinals.  LMU ends its season at 22-7 overall.

Meeks hit .296 on the match, adding 10 digs for the Indians. Junior setter Jordan Raye (Boonville, NC/Starmount HS) notched a triple-double with 12 kills, 46 assists and 17 digs.  It marked her fifth triple-double of the season.

Two players surpassed milestones for Catawba.  Junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Whitmer (Ferrum, VA/Franklin Co. HS) added 11 kills and 10 digs for the Lady Indians, going over 1,000 kills in her career.  Junior libero Jenny Young (Roanoke, VA/Patrick Henry HS) collected 32 digs to break the school single-season record.  She now has 752 on the year.

Senior outside hitter Candace Richardson (Houston, TX) had 17 kills to lead the LMU attack.  Junior middle blocker Blaire Fowler (Fort Worth, TX) added 13 kills and 11 digs, while sophomore right-side hitter Kaitlin Walton (Muncie, IN) chipped in with 10 kills.  Freshman Allison Beavers (Tomball, TX) had eight kills, 38 assists and 16 digs for the Railsplitters.  Junior libero Kristen Cantrell (Murfreesboro, TN) piled up 26 digs.

Catawba came out hot in the opening set, hitting .500 in the frame without committing an error.  A Whitmer kill gave the Indians a 14-7 advantage.  A kill from Richardson trimmed the lead to five, but Catawba had the response, building a 19-11 advantage via a kill and block from Meeks.  Lincoln Memorial would get no closer than nine the rest of the way.  Meeks made it 24-14 with a kill, while Whitmer capped the opening set with a kill.

Three consecutive Catawba errors, along with a Richardson kill gave LMU a 16-9 lead in the second set.  A block from Walton pushed the lead to eight at 19-11. Catawba fought back, cutting it to five on a kill from Raye.  The Lady Indians could not get the deficit below four, with a Richardson kill capping the set.

The third frame was tightly contested throughout with seven ties and three lead changes.  A 3-0 run for Catawba turned a one-point deficit into a 19-17 lead on a kill from Raye.  A kill from sophomore middle blocker Emily Richardson (Salem, VA/Salem HS) gave the Lady Indians a 21-18 lead. 

A pair of Catawba errors cut the lead to two at 22-20 and LMU’s Richardson added a kill to get the Railsplitters to within two one final time at 23-21.  Catawba freshman outside hitter Haley Lanier (Burgaw, NC/Pender Co. HS) answered with a kill to push the lead to three.  An ace from junior Denise Grissom (Stokesdale, NC/Rockingham Co. HS) gave the Indians a 2-1 lead in the match.

LMU fought back to even the match in the fourth, jumping out to a 17-11 lead on a Richardson kill.  Catawba trimmed the lead to three at 20-17 on a kill and an ace from Raye.  Fowler answered with a kill to push the lead back to four, but a Meeks kill and Lanier block made cut it to two at 21-19.  Beavers responded with a kill, while a Fowler kill made it 24-19.  Walton sent the match into a fifth set with a kill.

A block from Meeks and Richardson gave Catawba an early 7-4 lead in set five.  Three consecutive LMU errors put the Lady Indians on top 11-6.  LMU would not go away, cutting the lead to two at 13-11 on a Fowler kill.  Catawba responded with a kill from senior middle blocker Taylor Doss (Boonville, NC/Starmount HS) to take a 14-11 lead then claimed the match on an LMU error. 

Catawba hit .263 on the night, with 64 kills and 18 errors in 175 attacks.  The Railsplitters had 61 kills and 24 errors in 184 attacks, hitting .201 on the night.

Catawba will face top-seeded Wingate in the semifinals on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.  The Lady Indians are making their first regional semifinal since the 2008 season, when they knocked off host Wingate and advanced to the final. 

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