Volleyball Drops Senior Day Decision

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    Kevin Kinder
    Kevin Kinder
    Muskets: 8,975

    Two Mountaineers finished with double-digit kills, as the West Virginia University volleyball team dropped a hard-fought, four-set match to No. 19-ranked Baylor by a score of 4-1 at the WVU Coliseum on Sunday. The Mountaineers (16-12, 4-10) fell to the Lady Bears (23-5, 13-2) in set scores of 25-27, 23-25, 25-22 and 25-21.

    Sunday’s match marked the eighth time this season the Mountaineers have played a team ranked inside the AVCA Top-25 Poll, with eight of their 12 losses coming against the country’s top-25 teams.

    “I thought we did some good things,” said third-year coach Reed Sunahara. “It’s disappointing that we came up short, but I thought we improved from the last game. That’s a positive. Tonight was senior night, and I thought they played well. They never gave up. They kept fighting and fighting. We won the third, and I thought we played well in the fourth. We had a couple bad breaks here and there, but you can’t do that against good teams.”

    Sophomore outside hitter Payton Caffrey recorded her 18th match in double figures, leading the Mountaineers with 20 kills on 45 swings. Caffrey also added four service aces, totaling 45 on the year, to go along with eight digs in the match.

    Sophomore right side hitter Natania Levak registered 12 kills, hitting a team-best .333 to round out the Mountaineers in double digits. Senior outside hitter Morgan Montgomery also chipped in with nine, while senior middle blocker Mia Swanegan added seven. West Virginia finished the night hitting .178 with 52 kills and 13.0 team blocks.

    Senior setter Emma Anderson dished out 44 assists and added nine digs, while senior libero Gianna Gotterba led the floor defensively with 18 digs. Swanegan led the Mountaineers with seven blocks, while Levak and freshman middle blocker Briana Lynch added five apiece.

    West Virginia gave Baylor everything it had in set one, but couldn’t come out on top. Caffrey paved the way for WVU early on, as she registered back-to-back service aces and a kill to put the Mountaineers ahead 4-0. West Virginia continued to maintain a steady lead until Baylor took five in a row, taking a 23-22 advantage on a kill from Camryn Freiberg. A Caffrey kill knotted the set at 23-all, before Baylor capitalized on a West Virginia service error, bringing the Lady Bears to set point, 24-23. The Mountaineers scored back-to-back points to extend the set, but the Lady Bears then rattled off three in a row for the 27-25 win and the 1-0 match lead.

    West Virginia quickly took a 10-7 lead in the second set following a 4-0 Mountaineer run. Baylor chipped away at the lead, though, coming within one at 17-16 on a kill from Katie Staiger. The Lady Bears once again put three in a row on the scoreboard, capitalizing on three West Virginia errors, for a 19-17 lead. The Mountaineers fought back and used two BU service errors to come within one at 22-21, but West Virginia couldn’t rally from behind and dropped set two, 25-23.

    The Mountaineers used back-to-back kills from Levak and Caffrey, respectively, to establish a 10-6 lead in the third set. Baylor then notched back-to-back-to-back points to tie the set at 13-all, forcing West Virginia to take its first timeout of the stanza. Both squads continued to exchange points, as the set was once again tied at 16 apiece. West Virginia then went on a roll, scoring five of the next six points for the 21-17 advantage. Baylor used three consecutive points to come within two at 23-21, but a Caffrey kill capped the set, 25-22, in favor of WVU.

    Four consecutive WVU attacking errors were the difference maker in set four, as the Lady Bears grabbed a 16-13 lead over the Mountaineers and never looked back. Swanegan put down a kill, followed by Lynch, to bring the Mountaineers within one, down 20-19. Caffrey then found the court to keep WVU’s deficit to just two points at 22-20, but another WVU attacking error and a pair of Baylor kills gave the Lady Bears the 25-21 win, as they took the match at 3-1.
    Yossiana Pressley had a team-high 14 kills for the Lady Bears, who hit .212 with 58 kills and 9.0 total team blocks.

    Following the match, the Mountaineers honored their 2017 senior class: defensive specialists Gianna Gotterba and Taylor Cross, setter Emma Anderson, middle blocker Mia Swanegan and outside hitter Morgan Montgomery.

    Up next, the Mountaineers will swing through Kansas for a pair of Big 12 matches to close the regular season. West Virginia takes on Kansas State on Wednesday, Nov. 22, followed by a match at No. 16 Kansas on Saturday, Nov. 25.

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