Mountaineers win Black and Gold Challenge

Photo by Justin Perry | The Appalachian

Andrew Clausen

The volleyball team cheers during the third game of the Black and Gold Challenge match against the University of Texas at Arlington. Photo by Justin Perry  |  The Appalachian
The Appalachian State volleyball team won the Black and Gold Challenge this past weekend with two consecutive victories Saturday night at Varsity Gym.

The team outlasted the University of Texas at Arlington in an opening thriller at noon, ultimately winning 3-1.

The Mountaineers traded point for point with UT Arlington for three close sets before rallying to win in the fourth set.

“The thing that makes the difference for us in close matches like that is just focusing on what we do in practice,” sophomore Jess Keller said. “It’s all about focus and doing what you know and trust that wins the game.”



After taking the first set against the Mavericks 25-21, the Mountaineers fell in the second set 25-15. Appalachian would then fight back for every point, earning a 25-20 win in both the third and fourth sets.

Keller led the team with 16 kills, with Emily Corrigan and Lauren Gray recording 14 and 11 kills, respectively. Paige Brown also contributed 45 assists in the win.

App State’s second opponent, Denver, proved to be just as formidable, if not more of a challenge than Arlington.

After taking an early lead in the first set, the Mountaineers struggled to keep the score close against Denver, losing the first set 25-23.

The second set would see the momentum swing both ways, which would prove to be the standard for the entire game. Despite going down early, the Mountaineers struck back to take the second set 27-25.

Corrigan credited App State’s tenacity to their desire to win and refusal to give up.

“Both teams were really fatigued in the end, but we grinded them out, we fought really hard and we weren’t going to take losing as an answer,” Corrigan said. “We kept attacking them no matter what, and it prevailed in the end.”

The Mountaineers’ persistence earned them a close 25-23 win in the third set and brought the tournament win that much closer.

Despite gaining an early lead in the fourth set, Appalachian struggled to contain an offensive surge by Denver and lost the fourth set 25-20, forcing a fifth and final set.

After trading point-for-point with Denver in the final frame, the Mountaineers gained the lead and never let up, taking the final set 15-13 and winning the game 3-2.
During the final timeouts of the game, head coach Matt Ginipro focused on keeping the Mountaineers’ energy level high.

“Especially in the fourth and fifth set, the only thing we talked about was how tired Denver looked,” Ginipro said. “So let’s show them we’re not tired and get in their heads a little bit and execute and make sure we’re grinding for every point.”

Corrigan tallied a total of 28 kills in the win, followed by strong performances from Lauren Gray, Lindsey Sauls and Keller who recorded 13, 10 and nine kills, respectively.

App State had a solid defensive performance from Meghan Mahoney with 25 digs. Paige Brown (13), Lauren Brown (12) and Kati Stammen (9) followed closely behind in digs.

“As young as we are, I’m proud of how we just kept fighting,” Ginipro said. “If we keep fighting like that and increase some kills in two positions, I’m pretty excited.”

The Mountaineers finished non-conference play with a record of 9-5.

App State begins SoCon play Thursday against Western Carolina University in Cullowhee at 7 p.m.

Story: CHRIS DEVERELL, Intern Sports Reporter
Photo: JUSTIN PERRY, Photo Editor