WVU Volleyball Spikes Herd

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    Three Mountaineers notched double-digit kills on the evening, as the West Virginia University volleyball team recorded a 3-1 win over in-state rival Marshall on Wednesday, at the WVU Coliseum, in Morgantown. The Mountaineers (11-14), who took the match in set scores of 18-25, 25-18, 25-23 and 25-17, claimed the Golden Ball Trophy for the third year in a row.

    With the win, West Virginia finished the season with a 9-5 record in nonconference play and is 39-20 all-time in non-league matches under fourth-year coach Reed Sunahara. Marshall drops to 10-18 overall.

    “It’s big for us,” Sunahara said. “Whenever you play a rival, you want to win those matches. I thought after the first set, we did a nice job. I’m glad we are going to keep the ball here.”

    Junior outside hitter Katelyn Evans had a team-high 16 kills for WVU, while freshman outside hitter Kristin Lux was two kills shy of a career high, with 13, hitting .375 on the evening for a match-high hitting percentage. Junior right side hitter Natania Levak rounded out the Mountaineers with 10 kills, as WVU finished the night hitting .191 with 54 kills and 50 assists.

    Freshman setter Lacey Zerwas was one dig shy of her fourth career double-double, recording 42 assists and nine digs in the match.

    Junior defensive specialist Gabrielle Cuckovich led the floor defense with a career-high 16 digs, while sophomore defensive specialist Alexa Hasting added 14 to the team’s total. Cuckovich and Hasting also served up a pair of aces, as WVU collected five on the evening.

    Freshman Macy McElhaney posted a career-high five total blocks, including a pair of solo stops. Lux followed suit with four block assists, as West Virginia finished the night with 10 total team blocks.

    Marshall jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the first set and never looked back. The Thundering Herd used another 5-0 scoring streak down the stretch to increase their lead to 12 at 23-11. West Virginia countered with six straight points of its own to come within six, but couldn’t recover from an early deficit, dropping the first set, 25-18, to hand the Thundering Herd a 1-0 lead in the match.

    The Mountaineers struggled early in the second set once again, finding themselves on the wrong end of the 12-10 score after a service ace from Marshall. West Virginia called a timeout and used a 6-0 scoring run late in the set for the 18-14 advantage. Zerwas dumped one over the net before Lux put down a kill, but back-to-back points from the Thundering Herd cut their deficit to three at 21-18. Evans found the back, right corner of the floor for a kill, as a pair of Marshall attacking errors put West Virginia at set point, ahead 24-18. Evans then buried the ball through the pins, as West Virginia claimed a 25-18 second-set victory to tie the match score at 1-1.

    Both teams traded points early in the third before the Mountaineers collected seven of eight points midway through the frame for the 18-13 advantage. Sophomore middle blocker Briana Lynch put down a pair of kills to maintain a five-point WVU lead, but Marshall used a late 4-0 scoring streak to come within one at 23-22. West Virginia called a timeout, as Levak and Lux each found the floor out of the stoppage to give the Mountaineers the 25-23 win and 2-1 match lead.

    Evans hit a blazing .500 in the fourth set, posting six kills on 12 total attempts and no errors, as the Mountaineers walked away with a 25-17 victory. West Virginia used four straight kills from Evans for the 23-15 lead. The Mountaineers then capitalized on a Thundering Herd attacking error for set point, but back-to-back points from Marshall extended the set. Evans put things away for the Mountaineers, though, as she came up with her 16th kill of the night for the 25-17 win and 3-1 victory in the match.

    With Wednesday’s win overall Marshall, West Virginia holds a 31-20 lead in the all-time series.

    Of note, the Mountaineers are one win away from collecting their 700th win in program history. West Virginia currently holds a 699-737 all-time record since its inaugural season in 1974.

    Looking ahead, West Virginia will travel to Ames, Iowa, on Saturday, Nov. 10, for a Big 12 match against Iowa State at the Hilton Coliseum. First serve is set for 9 p.m. ET, as the Mountaineers and the Cyclones meet for the 17th time overall on Saturday and the 14th time in league play since WVU joined the Big 12 in 2012. ISU owns a 15-1 lead in the all-time series.

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