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Maya Winterhoff
Freshman Maya Winterhoff was named MVP of the tournament.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State Volleyball Splits Pair of Contests to Open Season

The App State volleyball team opened competition at the Charleston Southern Tournament with a 3-0 sweep of California Baptist, giving the Mountaineers a victory in head coach Sarah Rumely Noble’s debut, and a 3-2 loss to host Charleston Southern in the nightcap left App State with a Friday split.

The Mountaineers (1-1) will face St. John’s (N.Y.) at 1 p.m. on Saturday to close out competition at the event.

“I’m incredibly proud of my team,” said Rumely Noble. “We played some really high level volleyball today and we fought really hard as a group. We were driven, hit for a high efficiency and I can’t wait to get back after it tomorrow.”

App State 3, California Baptist 0
In the Mountaineers’ afternoon matinee against California Baptist, sophomore Madison Baldridge led the team in kills, notching 11, with freshman Maya Winterhoff following close behind with nine. Sophomore Sophie Cain tallied 17 assists to lead the team, and senior Sam Bickley notched 13 assists and two service aces in the season opener. Making her debut for the Mountaineers, freshman Kenady Roper posted a team-high 14 digs.

In their first-ever meeting with the Lancers, App State outpaced CBU in points (50-49), aces (5-3), and blocks (6-3).

Overcoming a deficit of five early in the first set, the Mountaineers managed to catch up with the Lancers. App State found momentum late in the set, posting a four-point run to move ahead of the Lancers, 20-18. Tied at 23-all, junior Cierra Huntley and senior McCall Denny sealed the first-set victory with a pair of kills. App State’s momentum carried into the second set, where they took a 3-1 lead. Despite only leading by a margin of three points on two occasions toward the end of the set, the Mountaineers managed to fend off the Lancers, matching their first set score of 25-23 to take a 2-0 lead.

In a tight third set, the Mountaineers broke away after a CBU attack error, pushing an 11-11 tie to a 16-11 lead as the Lancers were dealt an attack error, Denny recorded a kill, CBU faced a ball-handling error, and Bickley posted back-to-back service aces. The five-point lead was the largest the Black & Gold recorded in the match. With the score 18-14 in App State’s favor, the Mountaineers went on a three-point run before CBU fought back, narrowing App State’s lead to 24-22. The Mountaineers won the next point to claim the set 25-22.

Charleston Southern 3, App State 2
The Mountaineers returned to the court for a primetime nail-biter against Charleston Southern. Cain and Huntley earned their first double-doubles of the season, with Cain leading the team in assists (43) and earning 11 digs, while Huntley tallied 14 digs of her own and 12 kills. Denny and Winterhoff led the team with 16 kills each, and Baldridge tallied 13. Winterhoff also led the team in blocks with five. Roper once again tallied the most digs with 18.

In comparison, App State led CSU in points (85-78), kills (69-60), assists (69-57), and digs (61-42). The teams broke even in aces with seven each.

In the first set, the Mountaineers steadily chipped away at an eight-point deficit until they evened the score at 20-20. The Buccaneers managed to edge ahead to take the set 26-24.

The Mountaineers came out strong in the second set, leading CSU 9-5 before the Buccaneers managed to chip away at App State’s lead and break away with a six-point run. The Mountaineers battled back, catching up and matching the Buccaneers point-for-point until the Black and Gold was able to take the set 25-23 after a kill from Baldridge and three errors from Charleston Southern.

App State took a commanding lead in the third set after recording a seven-point run that launched it to a set score of 25-15. Despite an early lead from App State in the fourth set, the Buccaneers managed to catch up, posting a score of 26-24 to push the match to a fifth set. Neither team could quite pull away for a comfortable lead in the fifth, but after App State managed to tie the set, the Buccaneers pulled away and took the final set 15-12.