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Recap: Springhill Suites Mayfaire Invitational

Noah Thomas and Bandon Sans, Seahawk Sports Staff

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UNC Wilmington kicked off the 2017 volleyball season on Saturday with the Springhill Suites Mayfaire Invitation at Hanover Hall. The Seahawks hosted a pair of games against Loyola Maryland and Appalachian State. Here’s a recap of the tournament’s events from The Seahawk staff:

UNCW 3, Loyola Maryland 0 (25-13, 25-23, 25-19) — 12:30 p.m.

Coming in with seven new players, coach Amy Bambenek wanted UNCW volleyball to form a culture that centered on accomplishing daily goals that it could control in the moment.

Instead of aiming to win the Colonial Athletic Association title, the Seahawks are setting smaller goals — like winning the next set. If their season opening win is any indication, it is a plan they intend to follow.

For UNCW, sweeping Loyola Maryland 3-0 in its first Saturday match was not as important as the composure the young team displayed throughout. The Seahawks won the first set 25-13 and did not let up when the Greyhounds came back to make the next two sets more competitive.

“We came out really strong,” said Bambenek. “Our energy stayed really consistent throughout the match even though the scores didn’t show it. I was really just happy with the overall effort that our team had today.”

Instead of adjusting to what the opponents are doing, Bambenek wanted her team to focus on their own fundamentals. Of course, there will come a time this season when the Seahawks must adjust, but that goes back to simplifying objectives and executing them.

“We need to make sure that we’re at the right base defensive positions, that we’re communicating the right way on our side,” she said. “That we’re putting pressure on them by not hitting the same shot, varying our offense, and distributing our offense.”

Appalachian State 3, UNCW 1 (27-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-23)

Despite a 3-1 loss, it never appeared as if the Seahawks were outmatched by the Mountaineers and their superior defense.

The Seahawks built several leads throughout the match, including a 16-9 lead in the first set, but Appalachian State was able to claw its way back in most instances and pull ahead.

Sophomore Madison Peters led UNCW with 13 kills, two blocks and a .303 hitting percentage. Junior Anna Moss had nine kills to her credit, as well as two blocks and four digs.

Bambenek cited long stretches of play where her team was unable to side-out — regaining the serve after via scoring or the opponent making a mistake — which allowed leads to slip away. UNCW gave up a seven-point lead it held in the first set by allowing the Mountaineers to rattle off nine-straight points.

But it was the Mountaineer defense that kept UNCW from forcing a fifth set late in the match. After tying the fourth-set score at 23, ASU’s Kara Spicer recorded back-to-back kills to put the Seahawks away for good.

“App. State plays tremendous defense,” said Bambenek. “Their diggers do a really good job of being extra scrappy, and I think that’s something we can learn from by watching them.”

UNCW will conclude the Springhill Suites Mayfaire Invitational on Sunday when it faces Davidson at 1 p.m.

Sports Editor Noah Thomas can be found on Twitter @iNoahT and Assistant Sports Editor Brandon Sans can be found @Bsans10. Any tips or suggestions should be forwarded via email to [email protected]

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Recap: Springhill Suites Mayfaire Invitational