BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. –Taylor Lillard (Victorville, Calif.) and Amanda Sahm (Marion, Iowa) posted double-doubles and Emma Milstead (Knoxville, Tenn.) tallied 22 digs as Gardner-Webb dropped a five-set decision to UNC Asheville on Tuesday evening.
UNC Asheville (7-9, 1-4 Big South) won the match by scores of 25-27, 25-15, 23-25, 25-19, and 15-9, holding Gardner-Webb (10-8, 1-3 Big South) to a .140 hitting percentage and 56 kills, while attacking at a .247 clip with 63 kills.
Keira Moore (Spartanburg, S.C.) led the way with 15 kills for the Runnin' Bulldogs, while Lillard had 11 kills with 10 digs. Tinsley Fain (Boiling Springs, S.C.) led the way with 25 assists, with Sahm earning 18 assists along with 11 digs. Milstead led GWU in digs with 22.
UNC Asheville had four players in double digits with kills, led by Shelby Erickson with 18. Madisen Zyburt tallied 30 digs while Kailey Hackett earned 32 assists.
Action in the opening set was balanced early until UNC Asheville went on a 5-0 run to build a 10-5 advantage, capped by a service ace by Erickson. The Runnin' Bulldogs answered with 7-0 rally to take a 12-10 lead after an attack error by Cara Guthrie. Play remained back and forth throughout the remainder of the first set, with the largest lead either team having being three points. Extra points were needed to decide the set, with GWU taking the last two points to claim the 27-25 win.
Asheville opened the second set with seven unanswered points, until Nicole Celarek (Bensenville, Ill.) got the Runnin' Bulldogs on the board with an emphatic kill. GWU closed the gap to as little as four points twice in the set, with the last time being at 18-14 after an attack error by Guthrie, but Asheville closed the set on a 5-0 spurt to take set two by a 25-15 advantage.
Action was even throughout the third set of play, with the largest lead being at 10-7 in UNC Asheville's favor. The Runnin' Bulldogs answered with a 4-0 run to take an 11-10 lead after a Kaelyn Dyson (Holly Springs, N.C.) kill. No team scored more than two consecutive points throughout the remainder of the set, with GWU claiming the last two points to take a 25-23 win on a kill by Hannah Driscoll (Lake Mary, Fla.).
GWU jumped out to an 15-9 lead to start the fourth set, but UNC Asheville answered with eight straight points, capped by a kill by Ansley Rooks to take an 18-15 lead. Asheville held the lead throughout the remainder of the set, earning a 25-19 win to head to a decisive fifth set.
UNC Asheville built an early 3-1 lead on a pair of kills by Erickson to start the fifth set, but GWU clawed back to take an 8-7 lead on a kill by Moore. Asheville would answer with an 8-1 run to claim a 15-9 win in the set and the overall match win.
Gardner-Webb will hit the road for its next matchup Friday (Oct. 7) at 7:00 pm against Liberty in Lynchburg, Va. The match will be streamed live on WatchESPN and the ESPN app as well as the Big South Network (www.bigsouthsports.com).