BOONE — The Appalachian State volleyball team had a chance to beat North Carolina State in the Appalachian Invitational, but blew a lead and fell 22-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-19 and 15 in the final day of the Appalachian State Invitational at the Holmes Center Sept. 14.
The Mountaineers (3-6) lost their second straight match in the tournament after falling to Iowa State one day earlier. North Carolina State also lost to Iowa State earlier on Sept. 14 and, as did App State, beat Western Carolina earlier in the invitational.
Appalachian State traded leads four times and had 10 ties in the first set with the Wolfpack. There were five tied scores and two lead changes in the second set and five lead changes in the fourth set.
“A lot of it is just our contact on the ball,” App State coach Matt Ginipro said. “When we get tight, we get a little panicky and we don’t get good contacts with the ball. When we’re out of system and scrambling around against a team like that, you can’t give a team like that an easy ball. If we’re giving them an easy ball or making errors, we’re pretty much handing them points.”
The Mountaineers went up two sets to one after overcoming a 7-0 deficit in the third set. The Mountaineers did not take the lead in that set until senior outside hitter Emma Longley scored on a kill to give App State a 20-19 lead. The Wolfpack closed to 22-20, but was outscored by the Mountaineers 3-1 the rest of the set.
“It definitely stings to lose it in five sets,” Longley said. “It’s a team we’ve played before. We’ve played them in the spring a couple of times, so it’s fun to play them. I think we hung in there with them and they’re a great team. We learned a lot playing them and learned a lot playing everyone win or lose.”
North Carolina State took advantage of tying the match by pulling away from the Mountaineers in the fourth set to force a winner-take-all fifth set. App State led 5-3, but some key kills from the ’Pack’s Jessica Kemp solidified N.C. State’s lead that App State could not overcome.
Longley turned into the Mountaineers’ workhorse offensively. She finished with 22 kills in 62 attempts and had 10 digs defensively. McCall Denny added 10 kills in 35 tries. Kara Spicer finished with nine kills. App State setter Sam Bickley handed out 50 assists.
“When you have a player like (Longley) who is dominating the floor — she had a lot more attempts than anybody on the floor and obviously we wanted to key in on her try and slow her down and try to stop her,” N.C. State coach Linda Hampton-Keith said. “She is a fabulous player and doing great things for them. So, we were just trying to slow her down and make her think a little bit more, but credit to her. She had a fantastic night.”
Melissa Evans finished with 22 kills in 53 attempts. Daniela McDonald finished with 14 kills and Jade Parchment finished with nine.
Appalachian State plays Furman and Winthrop at Winthrop in Rock Hill, S.C. on Sept. 20. The Mountaineers play Maryland the next day in Columbia, S.C.
App State begins its Sun Belt Conference season Sept. 27 at home against Georgia State and Georgia Southern Sept. 29.