Volleyball opens season, goes 2-4 across two invitationals


The Appalachian State Volleyball team celebrates a point from a spike during a home game against Georgia Southern in 2017. The Mountaineers currently sit at 2-4 and will host Iowa State in the Appalachian Invitational on Sept. 13

Dan Davidson, Former Sports Editor

Out in Arizona, the App State volleyball team took part in the season-opening “Cactus Jack” tournament hosted by No. 24 Arizona, along with Loyola Marymount and Samford. 

The Mountaineers began the tournament against the Wildcats of Arizona. The match lasted three sets, all of which were won by the Wildcats. App State accumulated 23 errors to Arizona’s seven across all three sets. 

“We did not play well against Arizona at all,” head coach Matt Ginirpo told AppStateSports.com. “Whether it was the early morning, or just playing against a really tough (Pacific)-12 opponent, we didn’t play well at all.”

Senior middle hitter Emma Longley had a game-high 13 kills, and junior middle blocker Kara Spicer was second on the team with six kills. Junior libero Emma Reilly had a game-high 20 digs and true freshman setter Sam Bickley accrued a game-high 25 assists in her first official collegiate match. The Wildcats finished opening day a perfect 2-0 but fell to Samford on the final day of the tournament. 

Later that day, App State defeated Samford in a five-set thriller that ended with a 15-13 victory in the final set. Left side sophomore Victoria Wilform, Longley and Spicer tied for the team lead with 12 kills a piece. The 12 kills were four off from Wilform’s career-high. Bickley played another outstanding match,  notching 39 assists. Reilly once again led the team in digs with 19. Samford lost to both App State and Loyola Marymount before defeating Arizona to finish 1-2 in the tournament. 

“I’m proud of the team for bouncing back against Samford and picking up that win, especially in five,” Ginipro told AppStateSports.com.

On the final day of the tournament, App State took on Loyola Marymount. The match lasted four sets, ending with a 3-1 defeat for the Mountaineers. Aside from the first set, the match was tightly contested with scores of 25-21, 25-22 and 25-21. Spicer had a game-high 16 kills, which tied the preseason All-West Coast Conference senior outside hitter Savannah Slattery of Loyola Marymount. Bickley only increased her numbers in the final match of the tournament, putting up another game-high in assists with 42. Loyola Marymount finished the tournament 2-1, only falling to No. 24 Arizona. 

“Going 1-2 at that tournament, with those opponents, I feel is a pretty good start to the season,” Ginipro told AppStateSports.com.

After a six-day break, the Mountaineers traveled to Durham for the Duke Invitational on Sept. 6 and 7. They fell to UNCW 3-2 and swept Wofford 3-0 on the first day. On the second day, they fell to the Duke Blue Devils 3-0. 

Following the Duke Invitational, Longley has a team-high 71 kills, and Spicer is a close second with 70 kills. Spicer also leads the team with 19 blocks. Reilly recorded her 1,000th career dig in the 3-0 win over Wofford. Bickley has set up her teammates often so far in her short career. Six games into her freshman season, she has a team-high 223 assists. She is also second on the team in blocks with ten.

Through its first six games, App State volleyball is 2-4. The Mountaineers will face Power Five opponents Iowa State on Sept. 13 and NC State on Sept. 14 at the Appalachian Invitational.