By Zack Ciboth Sports Editor
The UNC Pembroke volleyball team fell Sunday afternoon in the Conference Carolinas Championship against the Emmanuel Lions. A rematch of the 2022 Conference Championship proved to be the making of another exciting match and it was just that. The Lions closed things out late to outlast the Braves 3-1 (25-23,22-25,25-20,25-21).
The Braves came out of the gate swinging to start the first set wasting no time to jump out to an 8-3 lead, and they continued to extend their lead as the set went on. Leading 20-15 Emmanuel went on a 7-0 run to take the lead and complete the comeback taking the set 25-23 to go up 1-0.
Down early in the second set the Braves responded to take the lead midway through the set and extended their lead on a scoring surge. Leading 19-16 as the set began to wind down, the Braves managed to stay in control and tie the match up 1-1 with a 25-22 set win.
The Lions started the third set off going on 9-1 run early and despite the Braves cutting into the lead the Lions managed to stay ahead. The Braves attempted a comeback with a 4-0 scoring surge, but Emmanuel managed to hold on for the set win.
The Braves and the Lions battled in the fourth set as the Lions just needed one more set to win the championship and the Braves were looking to force a deciding fifth set. The Braves held the lead early but quickly saw the match tie up at 16-16. From there the Lions went on a scoring run to take the lead and held off the Braves for the win.
Leading the way in kills for the Braves was Vanja Przulj with 29, Ruby Countryman followed with 10 kills and Abby Peduzzi came away with 16. On the assist side was Katie Pressley with 52, Kyleigh Coghlan with three and Katelynn Swain with two. Coghlan led the way in digs with 19, Peduzzi had 15 in the afternoon and Przulj with 11.
Swain recorded four blocks, Emma Fraidenburg had three and Countryman had two at the net. Przulj and Swain each had two aces and Coghlan had one to round out the scoring.
Pressley and Przulj were named as part of the 2023 Conference Carolinas All Conference team.
The Braves finish the season with a 21-14 record and a conference record of 12-5. They claimed the East Division title and finished runner-up in the Conference Carolinas Tournament.