BOILING SPRINGS - Nicole Celarek (Bensenville, Ill.) racked up 12 kills and Emma Milstead (Knoxville, Tenn.) tallied 20 digs to lead Gardner-Webb to a straight-set sweep of North Carolina Central on Tuesday evening.
Gardner-Webb (11-12) earned the win by scores of 25-10, 25-17, and 25-17, snapping a six-match losing streak in the process. GWU held NC Central (3-12) to a -.077 hitting percentage and 16 kills, while attacking at a .175 clip with 40 kills.
"I am very pleased with our team effort tonight." stated Gardner-Webb head coach Leo Sayles after the match. "I thought our reserves did a tremendous job playing efficiently and helping us keep a good flow to our game. Our right sides were relentless tonight, and made a big difference. We hope to gain some confidence from this win and carry it into our matches this weekend."
Celarek led all attackers with 12 kills, with Milstead leading everyone with 20 digs. Amanda Sahm (Marion, Iowa) tallied 22 assists, and Keira Moore (Spartanburg, S.C.) and Kaelyn Dyson (Holly Springs, N.C.) led the squad with two blocks each.
NC Central was led in kills by Casey Curran with five, Bree Simmons in digs with 10, Paige Phillips in assists with 13, and Jazmine Daye in blocks with one.
The Runnin' Bulldogs opened up the first set with a 14-2 run, highlighted by four smashes by Molly Johnston (Lubbock, Texas) in that stretch. GWU would continue to pace the opening set, putting together a 6-1 run to go up 21-6 after a pair of kills by Taylor Lillard (Victorville, Calif.), and would eventually take the set by a score of 25-10.
The second set would begin with a quick 6-2 run by Gardner-Webb that included a pair of Celarek kills. NCCU would hang with GWU in the initial part of the frame until a 5-2 spurt that put the Runnin' Bulldogs up by a score of 15-9, capped by a block by Moore. GWU would push its lead to eight points, including a final 3-1 burst to wrap up a 25-17 set win.
Gardner-Webb would open set three on an 8-3 run, capped by an Hannah Lancaster (Gaffney, S.C.) ace. GWU also had a stretch of six consecutive points scored midway through the set, highlighted by a pair of blocks by Dyson to extend its lead to 18-7, yet the Eagles would respond with five straight points to pull with in six points at 18-12. Gardner-Webb would then answer with a quick 4-1 spurt to to go up by a score of 22-13 following a kill by Johnston. GWU would go on to win the set by a score of 25-17 and claim the overall match win.
The Runnin' Bulldogs will return to Big South Conference action this weekend, hosting Campbell this Friday evening at 7:00 pm and Liberty on Saturday afternoon at 5:00 pm.