The Chattanooga volleyball team grinded out a five-set thriller on Saturday night in Greensboro, as UTC was able to fight through an absolute war against UNCG to ultimately claim a 3-2 victory.
The Mocs (13-5, 2-2 SoCon) squared off against a scrappy UNCG side (1-14, 0-4 SoCon) that was able to take Chattanooga all the way to five sets, but it was ultimately the clinical offensive performance of outside hitter Gylian Finch that helped UTC navigate their way to a perfect 2-0 record on the weekend.
“I am so proud of the girls for gutting out a win,” head coach Julie Torbett said.
“G (Gylian Finch) was simply amazing. Her shot selection was everywhere there was open court and Elaine (Redman) did a great job at feeding her. Morgan (Romano) got kills and blocks in crucial moments for us. We struggled to stop their middles but found a way to dig in and pull it out.”
UTC found themselves in a hole early with UNCG jumping ahead behind a tightly contested 26-24 set win in the first. Needing to quickly rally, the Mocs fought for every single point like the match depended on it, because it truly did. In a second set where the largest lead for either team was just four points, the Mocs got on the board with a 25-23 win to level the scoreboard at 1-1.
After an early run by the Spartans in a crucial third set, the Mocs saw themselves down 10-16 and needing a big run in order to get back into the set and potentially the match. It was here that Chattanooga put together one of the key moments of the night, closing out set three on a blazing 15-4 run fueled primarily by Morgan Romano that helped UTC take the set 25-20.
The 25-20 scoreline of set three was the largest winning margin of any of the five sets on the night, with each of the other four being decided by either two or three points.
Even after a bit of a UNCG lapse at the end of the third, the Spartans were not of the match yet as Greensboro rallied behind their crowd to take the fourth set, 25-22. With the scoreboard now reading 2-2, the Mocs were headed to a fifth set for the fourth time this season.
Like the rest of the match up to that point, the fifth set was even more back-and-forth play between the Mocs and the Spartans, with every point proving important when all was said and done. The Mocs held a slight 8-7 edge over UNCG as the teams switched sides, but it wasn’t long after that the teams found themselves level at 12-12 in set five.
Needing one last push, the Mocs found it in the form of Morgan Romano, who accounted for each of Chattanooga’s last three points of the match to help get the Mocs over the finish line to claim a 15-13 set win and a 3-2 match win over UNC Greensboro. The Mocs now have a 4-1 record in five-set matches this season.
The Mocs’ offense was fueled by outside hitter Gylian Finch, as the grad student tallied a new career-high 28 kills for UTC to help get Chattanooga their second SoCon win of 2023. Finch’s 28 kills mark a new individual match-high for the Mocs this season, as well as the most kills in a single match for UTC since Natalie Tyson logged 29 last November against Furman.
Elaine Redman once again put on a passing clinic for the Mocs, putting up 50 assists, just three shy of her season-high of 53 from earlier this year against Georgia State. Redman has now logged 40+ assists eight times this year.
On the defensive side of things for Chattanooga, Paige Gallentine and Chard’e Vanzandt continued to pace the Mocs in digs and blocks, respectively, with Gallentine putting up 24 digs and Vanzandt matching her career-high of six blocks from earlier this season.
The Mocs will now close out their three-match road spell on Tuesday, October 3 with UTC traveling to Huntsville, Alabama, to take on Alabama A&M (1-15, 0-3 SWAC). The match is scheduled for a 6 p.m. ET start time and will not be available to stream. Chattanooga will then return to Maclellan Gymnasium for Homecoming Weekend October 6-7, hosting a pair of matches against Furman (12-3, 3-1 SoCon) and Western Carolina (4-11, 1-3 SoCon).