The UNC Wilmington volleyball team entered this weekend in need of victories in its final two games to qualify for the Colonial Athletic Association conference tournament. It completed half of that with its three-set sweep of William & Mary (25-21, 25-12, 25-20) on Friday night at Hanover Hall.
The Seahawks (10-17, 4-11 CAA) received big games from a balanced hitting attack from senior Sydney Brock, sophomores Madison Peters and Kendall Bender (eight kills apiece), and juniors Maddy Kline (seven kills) and Halle Hunt (five aces). UNCW had a season-high .294 hitting percentage, especially crucial in a match that saw the Seahawks battle back from a 17-11 deficit in the third set to secure the sweep after dominating in the second set.
On defense, junior Katie McCullough had a match-high 11 digs, and Kline and Bender both had four blocks apiece. The Seahawks led 7-1 in blocks over the Tribe (5-24, 2-13 CAA), who were led by senior Sydney Biniak, junior Heather Pippus, and freshman Lauren Moussaid.
Kline spoke of the importance of Friday’s win for the team’s playoff qualification hopes.
“I think the biggest thing is that we knew what we had on the line this weekend, so it was a huge weekend for us,” Kline said. “William and Mary are in a similar position to us right now, so we needed to prove our ground right here at home. Going into Sunday, this win was huge for momentum.”
Brock played her penultimate regular season game on Friday night, and she concurred with Kline on the significance of the victory.
“This win has us all excited for a very important matchup on Sunday against Elon,” Brock said. “It’s always important to stay calm and focused even when something happens, so it’s super important that we came back, fought as a team, and had some amazing aces at a prime time to get us going,” she said of the momentum swing in the third set.
UNCW coach Amy Bambenek spoke of the team’s ability to remain focused in such a high-stakes, high-pressure situation. She complimented Hunt in particular for her serving run that enabled them to score seven straight points to put the match away.
UNCW moved to within a game of sixth-placed Elon with the win. The two in-state conference rivals will duel for the final playoff spot when the Phoenix visit Wilmington for senior night on Sunday. The Seahawks need to sweep the Phoenix to clinch the final spot in the CAA tournament.
Staff Writer Lanre Badmus can be found on Twitter @LonnyBadmon . Any tips or suggestions should be forwarded via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For video updates from The Seahawk, subscribe to our YouTube channel.