GRU Augusta Volleyball (14-4, 5-2 PBC) continued to establish itself as a force to be reckoned with in the Peach Belt Conference by downing UNC Pembroke (8-12, 0-7 PBC) 3-1, and claiming its fourth straight win Saturday afternoon in Christenberry Fieldhouse.
GRU lost the opening set 25-16, but won three sets in a row 25-19, 25-16 and 26-19. A hot start of four kills from senior Kristen Koch lifted GRU to a 7-3 lead in the first set. As the set continued, the UNCP offense caught fire.
UNCP rallied in set one by delivering 14 kills on one error and a hitting percentage of .419 to take an early 1-0 lead. While GRU struggled to score against UNP’s lengthy front row with a .179 hitting percentage.
In set two GRU had another quick start. The team held serve for a 7-0 run to take a 10-3 lead. However, UNCP crawled back into the set at 19-15. It took three straight kills from Koch to bring the score at 23-16, and a crucial kill from senior Maggie Darling tied the match at 1-all.
The trend of GRU taking the early lead continued. GRU took a commanding 12-3 lead in set three before UNCP was forced to take a timeout. The timeout did nothing to slow down GRU’s momentum. GRU came out of the 30 second break and built its largest lead of the afternoon at 19-6.
UNCP went on a 5-0 run to delay the inevitable set lost, but an aggressive spike from junior Kaila Baptiste gave GRU the set and match lead.
The fourth set proved to be the most competitive period of the match. A spike from Katie Beresford gave GRU a 7-4 advantage. GRU strung together six straight points for a 13-5 score.
Then UNCP went on a run of its own, ignited by a kill from junior Nicole Matthews to come within three at 14-11. Nonetheless Beresford continued to own set four with a spike that gave GRU a 20-14 margin.
Only two points away from closing out the match in four sets, and Matthews climbed the ladder for a spike to keep UNCP in the game at 23-18. On the next play Matthews committed an attack error to give GRU game point, and a gentle tip-in from Paige Elliot gave GRU another Peach Belt win.
Koch finished the afternoon with 17 kills, junior-transfer Alyssa Latham added 46 assists and sophomore Catherine DeSilvester tallied 20 digs.