By: Dakota Banks and Jacob Husson
Braves v. Newberry
The Braves ended a 10-year losing streak defeating the Newberry Wolves in a tri-match on September 7, at the Lumbee Guaranty Bank Court. The opening game of the day gave the Braves (4-2) their first win in 7 tries against the Wolves (0-1).
Shannon Skyrd led the Braves with 13 kills, with Kaila Crowder following with 10, and Brianna Warren with 6, bringing in the team in with an incredible 39 kills. Katie Pressley led the team with 33 assists. Katie Pressley dominated in digs with 12, and Kaila Crowder right behind her with 11. The team showed merciless teamwork.
In the first set the Braves had a late start, that they let build up their momentum. Kaila Crowder led with four consistent kills at the net. Brianna Warren stepped in and her and Crowder were showing teamwork
sending kills back-to-back. After the Wolves took their final leading the first set the score was 20-19. After a kill by Newberry’s Margaret McMahon, the Braves upped their game and never trailed after that, scoring four of the next five points to close the set out.
UNCP started strong in set 2 by scoring six straight points to bring the score to an 11-5 advantage. Unphased by Newberry slowly making a comeback, the Braves answered the challenge with a 5-1 run to set up a point opportunity that led to a service error via Newberry.
“We can never have enough communication, or team chemistry when on the court” Crowder also says.
In the third set UNCP’s Zoe Dinkins gave the Braves an even score of 20-20 with a kill, but an attack error on Newberry gave the Braves the lead. Shannon Skryd set up a point opportunity on the right hand sight and sealed it with another amazing kill moments later.
Braves v. Winston-Salem
At 6 PM on Tuesday, September 7, UNCP took on Winston Salem State University. This was the last of three Volleyball matches at Lumbee Guaranty Bank Court for the day. The Braves won the match in straight sets, 25-17, 25-16, 25-15. This made the Braves 2-0 for the day, including their victory over Newberry earlier in the afternoon.
UNCP registered 40 kills to WSSU’s 24. They also had six aces, compared to only one for Winston Salem State. The two teams were evenly matched in terms of errors, each committing fifteen. The Braves also played their way to a 36-21 advantage, in terms of assists. The Braves also had the advantage in digs, netting a 42-32 advantage in that department. Of course, the most important differential was the points advantage, 50-35.
Erin O’Donnell led the Braves with twelve kills, with Brianna Warren and Katelyn West following behind with eleven and five, respectively. On the other hand, Raven Gray led WSSU with seven kills, Sanaa Lanier and Rheign Davis each chipping in five of their own. Katie Pressley was a superstar setting up her teammates. She led the Braves with thirty-three assists in the match. Her teammates, Marissa Morgan also chipped in two assists, and Shannon Skyrd had one of her own.
Coach Wehling will be looking for more of the same as the season goes on. If they are able to continue to perform like that, there is no reason they cannot compete for a conference championship this season.
Coach Wehling said “They were excited and happy to get the first win under our belt, but they’re ready for the next challenge. We are always looking to get better and being able to build confidence off a good performance like that will really help us as we head on the road these next few matches.”
It seems that the Braves are trying to stay level-headed, in order to prevent any letdowns later in the season. This will be especially important when the late-season push comes, as well as the conference tournament. The right mindset could very well be the difference between winning and losing key matchups down the stretch.
“By building off the good performances we had tonight. Going into practice and really working hard, tweaking a few things that will help us continue to see success during the season,” Wehling said.
The Braves will look to continue their momentum on Friday versus Saint Leo and Eckerd in Valdosta, Georgia. If they continue their winning streak, it will be up to four straight victories, a solid accomplishment. Of course, they will certainly want to go 4-0 in Valdosta to win the Valdosta State Invitational.
Next home game is Friday September 24, 2021 at Lumbee Guaranty Bank Court.