App State honored their seniors on Sunday as the Mountaineers (9-17, 4-8 Sun Belt) defeated Troy (9-18, 3-9) in a late season conference matchup that took five sets to settle.
Alongside some exciting volleyball action, App honored seniors Courtney Sullivan, Ashlyn Brown, Cassidy Stephenson and Olivia Loeffler as well as student assistant coach Tierney Flaherty before the opening whistle.
Both Troy and App wanted a late season win to help get over the hump before the postseason, and the effort was apparent from the initial whistle.
App jumped out to an early lead thanks to kills from freshman outside hitters Grace Morrison and Lexi Kohut, but the lead exchanged four more times before the Mountaineers used a decisive 3-0 run to close out the first set 27-25.
Troy took the second and third set, but not without a fight and a handful of lead changes. Thanks to outstanding offensive performances from their freshmen and sophomores, Troy was able to maintain momentum and carry themselves into a 2-1 set lead going into the fourth.
Cheyenne Hayes led the Trojans with 14 kills and fellow freshman SaraGrace Wilson led the defense with 17 digs.
While in previous games they may have had less than ideal outcomes, the Mountaineers battled back. Winning the fourth set 25-21, the Mountaineers then captured the fifth and final set 17-15, recording their second home victory on the year.
“It was a great game, I liked that we had to fight and come back,” head coach Matt Ginipro said. “We still made mistakes but we were able to overcome those mistakes”
A notable performance that helped App seal their victory was the return of sophomore outside hitter Emma Longley, who fortified their left side and even helped put some points on the board.
“All season I have been talking about how great this team is and how much we’ve grown together. The minute I found out I had a chance to play again, I took it no questions asked.” Longley said. “I’d rather play four or five great games with this team right now than a whole season with anybody else.”
There are only four conference games remaining before the tournament and Longley’s teammates know how much of a boost she can give to her team.
“She’s something special, there really is something to having somebody like her as a teammate,” Sullivan said.
With the Sun Belt Conference tournament quickly approaching, the Mountaineers are looking to grab a couple more wins on the road. Starting on Friday, App State will start their four-game road trip, traveling first to Georgia Southern (7-17, 3-9).
Story By: Garrett Wold, Intern Sports Reporter
Photos By: Cameron Schaefer, Staff Photographer