GRU Augusta recovered from a three game skid to sweep all three matches during Parents Weekend at Christenberry Fieldhouse.
Ranked number four in the Peach Belt Conference, GRU (20-7, 9-5 PBC) defeated Lander last Friday, then won against USC Aiken and Claflin the following Saturday afternoon at home.
The victories against PBC foes, Lander (6-6 PBC) and USCA (9-4 PBC), were pivotal in helping GRU maintain a decent standing in the conference.
Against Lander, it took GRU five sets (25-17, 20-25, 25-20, 15-25, and 15-12) to wrap up the conference duel.
GRU came into the fourth set leading the match, 2-1. Lander got off to a 5-1 start behind four kills from junior outside hitter Sydney Tracy.
Late in the fourth, GRU’s freshman outside hitter Kali Boatwright brought the team within three at 18-15, but Lander scored seven straight points to send the match into the fifth.
GRU nabbed the early lead in the fifth set with an 8-4 start. However, three unforced errors by GRU and two kills from Tracy brought Lander back into set, 13-11.
The next play junior setter Alyssa Latham setup a kill for senior outside hitter Maggie Darling to give GRU set point. And two plays later Boatwright scored the game-winning kill.
Nonetheless, the biggest win of the weekend came against top rival and number two team in the conference, USCA. GRU lost to USCA back in September, but returned the favor in a 3-1 (28-26, 25-22, 25-21, 26-24) triumph.
From start to finish the match was intense, and each set could have gone either way. In the first set an unforced error by USCA gave GRU the set point, 24-21. But USCA fought back to take the opening set.
“It was disappointing, because we controlled it up to that point and we gave that set away” GRU head coach Sharon Quarles said about dropping set one. “They didn’t beat us. It was just hitting errors (and) passing errors.”
In the second set GRU came out firing by building a 7-2 cushion, but USCA didn’t stay down for long. Deep into the set the score was tied 19-all. An attack error from USCA broke the tie, and GRU went on to win the set.
“That was a good feeling, because we didn’t want to go into the locker room being down,” Boatwright said in response to wining set two. “That really changed the momentum of the match.”
The third set was another back and forth affair, that included seven ties and lead changes. But a myriad of mental mistakes by USCA allowed GRU to claim the match led, 2-1.
During the fourth set GRU and USCA continued to battle until the score was tied 24-all. Latham assisted Boatwright in a kill to give GRU set point, and Darling dialed up a game-winning service ace to beat USCA in dramatic fashion.
“It felt great,” Darling said about delivering the game-winning point. “It’s great to come out on top against a rival.”
GRU cruised through the non-conference matchup against Claflin in three straight sets (25-19, 26-24, and 25-15), winning the hitting percentage .190 to .082 and landing eight aces.
The Jaguars remain at home for a premier PBC matchup against Montevallo, Tuesday at 6 p.m. Montevallo (8-4 PBC), now third in the conference standings, lost the programs’ first meeting after leading the early season match, 2-0.