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App State volleyball continues undefeated start to season

Courtesy of Taylor Newton, App State Athletics
Sophomore Maya Winterhoff goes up to spike a ball against Bellarmine Aug. 25, 2023.

App State volleyball went undefeated against Bethune-Cookman, Campbell and East Carolina University. These games were all part of the ECU Tournament over the weekend. 

Starting with the first match against Bethune-Cookman, freshman right side Delanie Grevengoed achieved a career high and team high of 11 kills during the game. Redshirt freshman Katie Cruise set a personal and team high of 22 assists in the game. Following them both, sophomore Kenady Roper dominated with 10 digs. Junior Lily Harvey totaled a team high of four blocks. Senior McCall Denny, junior Alexis Hardison, sophomore Alyssa McBean, Cruise and Roper all posted an ace in the opening game. 

The Mountaineers outmatched the Wildcats in all categories including points, aces, blocks, assists and digs.The Mountaineers held Bethune-Cookman to 11 points in the first set after leading 4-0 early with kills from junior Lauren Pledger, Denny and Grevengoed. From there, the game was steady as the Mountaineers worked to build a lead with three more scoring runs of 3-0. This brought the team to a 19-8 lead. A kill from freshman Ava Leahy, a block from Leahy and Pledger and some fatal mistakes from the Wildcats extended  the Black and Gold’s lead to 23-9. The sets were closed out by a set of kills from junior Lulu Ambrose that brought the score to 25-11. 

The second set kicked off with a block from both Grevengoed and Harvey. Throughout the second set the Mountaineers commanded the game, bringing the set to a final score of 25-17 with another closing kill from Ambrose. 

In the last set, Bethune-Cookman scored the first points of the final set and was neck in neck with the Mountaineers, but their success was short-lived.

After some critical errors from the Wildcats, the Mountaineers pulled away as Denny gave App State a 6-3 edge. Back-to-back kills from Grevengoed, a kill from senior Cierra Huntley and errors from BCU brought App State to a 17-7 lead. Then to put the game away in the books, Huntley, Winterhoffand Ambrose delivered kills to the Wildcats. An ace from Hardison, and blocks from Harvey and senior Madison Baldridge brought the game to match point, which ended with the Mountaineers on top with match 3-0 and set score of 25-16. 

The game against the Camels saw Ambrose, Dennyand Winterhoff post double digit kills. Denny also set her first double-double of the season with double digit kills and digs. 

At first, it seemed the Mountaineers may be in trouble against Campbell, with the first set going to the Camels 30-28. Then, another neck and neck set gave the Camels a 2-0 lead over the Black and Gold. 

The Mountaineers did not give up, and came back strong with a thundering answer in the third set. They found themselves with a 6-4 lead that pushed them ahead 21-16. After taking the third set at 25-21, the Black and Gold came hot out of the gate with an immediate 10-0 lead in the fourth set of the game, by building off aces from Roper and kills from Winterhoff and Grevengoed.

The Mountaineers held the Camels to 16 points in the fourth set, which tied up the game at two sets apiece. App State then put the final nail in the coffin, as the thriller of the game 3-2 ended after winning the fifth and final set 15-9. 

The Mountaineers won their third match of the tournament as they defeated ECU, with Ambrose leading the team in kills with 13 while also claiming the match winning kill. Denny posted 12 kills and matched her own career high of 19 digs in addition to it being her second double double of the season. Roper and McBean each had two aces on the afternoon, while senior Sophie Cain and redshirt freshman Cruise both recorded double digit assists with 26 and 25. 

App State held the edge with kills, assists, 54-50 and digs 85-83.  

Quickly, App State claimed the lead over the ECU in the first set with a score of 8-5. Then with kills from Denny and Grevengoed, the Black and Gold extended their lead to 23-15. The struggling Pirates were able to catch up, but a kill from Winterhoff gave App State the advantage 25-23. 

The Mountaineers lost the second set against the Pirates, after going point for point with them.  Pirates broke away with a 4-0 run and a 5-0 run and claimed the set after the Mountaineers got a last kill from Pledger.  

Throughout the tight third set, App State fought hard, but were not allowed more than a four point lead the whole set. Finally, Leahy slammed down a kill that brought the Mountaineers ahead 11-8. However, ECU steadily gained back their points and eventually took the set 25-19.

The fourth set was a tough battle for both teams, but after a few lead changes App State finally took the set with a kill from Denny. This put the score at 27-25. 

The fifth and final set is where the Mountaineers shined.

The team jumped ahead early with a 8-5 lead. ECU went on a 4-0 run to take the lead, but App State answered with a point for point run to claim the lead again with an 11-10 edge. Kills from Leahy and Ambrose brought App State to both set and match point. ECU fought hard for two more points, but a kill from Ambrose sealed both teams’ fates. The Pirates lost the set 15-13 and the Mountaineers won the match 3-2. This will be the Black and Gold’s sixth straight win of the season. 

The Mountaineers will be back in action on their home turf on Sept. 7-9 starting on Thursday at 6 p.m. in a match against North Carolina A&T. 

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About the Contributors
Asher Davidson
Asher Davidson, Reporter

Asher Davidson (he/him) is a senior journalism major with a minor in media studies from Black Mountain, NC.

G DeVoe
G DeVoe, Photographer
G. DeVoe (they/he) is a freshman majoring in Sustainable Business Management from Wake Forest, NC. This is their first year with The Appalachian. 
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