ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Gardner-Webb jumped out to a two-set lead Tuesday night against UNC Asheville, but the Bulldogs rallied to take a 3-2 win over the Runnin' Bulldogs at the Justice Center.
Gardner-Webb (11-15, 1-10 Big South) hit a strong .273 in the opening set, taking a 25-18 win over UNC Asheville (11-11, 5-6 Big South). The second set opened in favor of GWU, building up an early 8-4 lead following a pair of blocks by Kaelyn Dyson.
UNC Asheville would respond with a 10-4 run to take a 14-12 advantage, forcing a GWU timeout. The Runnin' Bulldogs would respond with seven consecutive points, including a pair of service aces from Kacy O'Connor, to take a 19-14 lead and control of the set. Gardner-Webb would finish the second set with a 6-3 spurt to earn a 25-17 win.
UNC Asheville responded well after the 10-minute break, rolling to an 8-3 lead early in the third set. Gardner-Webb would pull within one point at 11-10 following a Dyson block, yet UNCA would open a cushion and hold on to a 25-20 win. The Bulldogs would hit .361 in the set, vastly improving over a .000 percentage in the previous set.
The fourth set was tightly contested with nine ties and five lead changes. GWU held a lead as late as 16-15 on a kill by Nicole Celarek, but UNC Asheville would go on a 10-3 run to take the equalizer by a 25-19 score.
UNC Asheville would control the majority of the fifth set, winning 15-9 and taking the overall match win.
Celarek led Gardner-Webb with 13 kills, while Taylor Lillard posted a double-double with 12 kills and 14 digs. Emma Milstead lead everyone with 23 digs, and Amanda Sahm dished out 27 assists. Dyson tallied three solo blocks and eight block assists to lead the team.
UNC Asheville hit .158 for the match while being led in kills by Cara Guthrie and Madison Vaughn who had 12 each. Madisen Zyburt and Shelby Erickson each had 19 digs to lead the team and Vaughn had two blocks and three block assists to lead in that category.
The Runnin' Bulldogs return to action Saturday evening at Presbyterian. Match time is set for 7:30 pm.