DURHAM, N.C. – Taylor Lillard (Victorville, Calif.) tallied 11 kills to pace Gardner-Webb in a straight-set sweep of North Carolina Central Tuesday evening.
"The girls had a good bounce-back effort after our loss Saturday." said GWU head coach Leo Sayles. "We started and finished the match with great focus, but had a little let down in the second set. I'm very pleased with the leadership of seniors Taylor Lillard and Kacy O'Connor, who both had excellent matches. Our defense was strong, but we still have some kinks to work out offensively. Hopefully this was a good tune-up before we return to conference play Friday."
Gardner-Webb (10-6) won the match by scores of 25-10, 25-23, and 25-12, attacking at a .233 percentage, while holding NC Central (1-8) to a -.057 hitting percentage. The Runnin' Bulldogs tallied 59 digs, 39 kills, and 10 blocks, compared to 46 digs, 18 kills, and five blocks by the Eagles.
Lillard led Gardner-Webb with 11 kills, followed by Hannah Driscoll (Lake Mary, Fla.) with eight smashes. Emma Milstead (Knoxville, Tenn.) recorded a match-high 15 digs, while Driscoll and Kaelyn Dyson (Holly Springs, N.C.) paced the team with five blocks each. Amanda Sahh (Marion, Iowa) and Milstead led the way with two service aces each, and Sahm led everyone with 16 assists.
Casey Curran led NCCU with nine kills, while Whitney White paced the Eagles with three blocks. Nia Singletary had a match-high three service aces, with Bree Simmons leading the Eagles with 13 digs.
The Runnin' Bulldogs opened the first set on a 6-1 run, highlighted by a pair of kills by Lillard. GWU wrapped up the initial frame with a 12-3 run to take a 1-0 advantage with a 25-10 first-set win.
Play in the second set was tight throughout, as the largest lead either team held throughout the frame was three points. GWU held that advantage at 7-4 following a kill by Dyson. Action was back and forth throughout the remainder of the set, with NCCU taking a 23-21 lead following an attack error by Driscoll. The Runnin' Bulldogs rallied with a four-point run to take the set, 25-23, capped by a kill by Nicole Celarek (Bensenville, Ill.).
Momentum continued for GWU as the third set began, with the Runnin' Bulldogs jumping out to a 17-5 run, capped by a kill by Dyson, her fifth of the evening. The set wrapped up on a 5-2 spurt, with GWU sealing the 25-12 win on an attack error by Casey Curran.
Gardner-Webb steps back into Big South Conference play this Friday afternoon, hosting Presbyterian at 11:30 am. The match can be seen live on the Big South Network (BigSouthSports.com).