Two days before it plays in the Sun Belt Championship Game as the East Division's…
The East Division No. 6 seed App State volleyball team fell to the West Division’s No. 3 seed Troy, 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-16) in the second round of the Sun Belt Tournament on Thursday. App State had entered the match with a first-round victory under its belt, while Thursday’s game served as Troy’s tournament opener.
“We fought hard tonight and never gave up,” said head coach Sarah Rumely Noble. “We fell short of the goals we set for ourselves, but we will use this season as a step toward creating the future we want for this program. I am forever grateful for the work that our seniors poured into this program.”
Fifth-year senior McCall Denny and junior Lulu Ambrose matched for the team-high in kills, each slamming down seven. Denny caps her career as a Mountaineer with 1,064 kills, tallying 293 this season. Sophomore Alyssa McBean recorded eight digs on the night as well as an ace. Fellow sophomore Maya Winterhoff and freshman Taylor McNear also notched aces against the Trojans. Winterhoff went up for a team-high five blocks and recorded a hitting percentage of .455. Redshirt freshman Katie Cruise recorded 16 assists, while senior Sophie Cain recorded 10. Cain caps her career with the Mountaineers with 1,778 assists.
App State took an early 4-1 lead after a kill from junior Lauren Pledger and a pair of consecutive blocks from Denny/Winterhoff and freshman Delanie Grevengoed/Winterhoff. The Trojans answered with a 4-0 run of their own to take a 5-4 edge. The Mountaineers kept pace with the Trojans, fighting point-for-point until Troy created a six-point deficit with a 5-0 scoring run to take a 20-16 lead. Despite a late solo block from Winterhoff, Troy jumped ahead, 24-17. A Grevengoed kill and Trojan error held Troy to two set points, but the Trojans took the set, 25-19.
App State once again took a 4-1 lead in the second set, building off an ace from McBean and kills from Denny and Winterhoff. As Troy caught up, a kill from Cain tied things up at 6-6 and a Winterhoff ace gave the Mountaineers a 7-6 edge. Back-to-back kills from Ambrose and Pledger as well as a block from the duo, put App State up 10-8. Kills form Pledger, Grevengoed, and Winterhoff kept App State ahead, 13-12, but the Trojans found momentum with a 6-0 run to regain the lead (18-13). App State chipped away at the Trojan lead, coming within three (23-20) after building off kills from freshman Ava Leahy, Ambrose, and back-to-back kills from Denny. Despite a late block from Grevengoed/Winterhoff, the Trojans took the second set, 25-21.
In the third and final set, Troy took an early 10-4 lead. A 3-0 run that included a kill from Grevengoed and ace from McNear brought App State within three (10-7). The Trojans built off a pair of scoring runs to lead 18-10. Ambrose, Grevengoed, and Winterhoff managed to slam down a quartet of kills before Troy took the set, 25-16, and the match, 3-0, to advance to Friday’s quarterfinals.