Upstate Falls in Five-Set Thriller at Northern Kentucky
Highland Heights, Ky. – The USC Upstate volleyball team received a match-high 18 kills from sophomore outside hitter Kayla Eversgerd Saturday afternoon, but it would not be enough as the Spartans fell to the Northern Kentucky Norse 3-2 in Atlantic Sun volleyball action at Regents Hall.
Upstate falls to 1-13 on the season and 1-4 in the conference, while the Norse improves to 6-11 overall and 1-4 in conference play.
NKU won the match by scores of 21-25, 25-20, 16-25, 25-22 and 15-13.
Eversgerd picked up her team-leading seventh double-double of the season as she led the squad with 15 digs in the effort. She was one of three Spartans with double-digit kills as sophomore middle blocker Javon Gates had a career-high 15 while freshman middle blocker Emily Koelling added 12. Upstate also had four players, including Eversgerd, that notched double-figure digs in the match. Sophomore right side Shannon Weiss finished with 14 digs, sophomore setter Lexi Gober posted 13 and senior libero Morgan Page contributed 11. Gober also tallied her sixth double-double of the season as she had 52 assists.
Upstate never trailed in the opening set as Eversgerd paced the offensive attack with seven kills. The Spartans recorded the first three points of the set to lead 3-0 on a kill by Eversgerd. Northern Kentucky stayed within a two-point deficit through the early stages until Upstate extended its lead to six, 16-10, following a kill from Alexa Lagaly. NKU trimmed its deficit back to one at 19-18, but the Spartans responded to end the set on a 6-3 run. Eversgerd capped off the first set with a kill to give Upstate the 25-21 victory.
The Norse evened the match at 1-1 after taking the second set, which featured seven ties and five lead changes, by a score of 25-20. The set was close throughout the opening points as the Spartans held just a two-point lead at 8-6 after Koelling's kill. A service ace by Eversgerd gave Upstate its largest lead of the set at 13-8, but Northern Kentucky reeled off four straight points to cut its deficit to one at 13-12. The two teams traded the next several points until the Norse took the lead for good at 18-17 following a kill from Kaela Jo Freppon. NKU stretched the lead to 22-19 on Megan Wanstrath's kill, and then captured the set following a service ace by Freppon.
The Spartans answered back to cruise in the third set to a 25-16 victory and take a 2-1 lead in the contest. Upstate scored five of the set's first seven points to lead 5-2 on a kill by Gates. Following a service error by Gober, Upstate posted a 7-2 run to lengthen its lead to seven, 12-5, after a kill by Koelling. The Spartans led by more than four the remainder of the set as their lead widened to 20-12 as Northern Kentucky's Jayden Julian could not capitalize on an attack. Another attack error by Julian would give Upstate the third set victory.
NKU tied the match back at 2-2 after winning the fourth set by a 25-22 score, and forcing a fifth, and deciding, set. The Spartans began the set in similar fashion as the third picking up five of the first six points to lead 5-1. From there, the Norse went on a 10-1 run to take an 11-6 lead that they would not give up the rest of the set. Upstate trimmed its deficit to four, 15-11, but Northern Kentucky would stretch its lead to seven at 19-12 after Wanstrath's kill. The Spartans made the set exciting at the end cutting NKU's lead to two, 24-22, but Wanstrath gave the Norse the set victory with her kill.
The Norse controlled the early portion of the fifth set as back-to-back attack errors by Eversgerd gave NKU a 6-2 lead. Northern Kentucky maintained its lead at four, 9-5, after Julian's kill, but Upstate would not go away. The Spartans reeled off a 5-2 run to make the score 11-10 in favor of the home team. The Norse then picked up the next three points to give them match point at 14-10. NKU's offense then gave Upstate two consecutive points to make it a one-point match at 14-13, but would win the set and match on a kill by Jenna Ruble.
Julian led the Norse with 16 kills while Freppon had 12.
The Spartans will now take the next five days off before returning to the Hodge Center on Friday, Oct. 11 to face the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles at 7 p.m.
Follow Upstate volleyball all season long on your mobile device, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.