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Courtesy: CAA
Freshman Nicole Lott was one of four Seahawks to register at least five blocks in the win.

Third-Seeded UNCW Defeats Sixth-Seeded Tribe In Volleyball #CAAChamps

Courtesy: CAA
          Release: 11/22/2013
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C., (Nov. 22, 2013) - Third-seeded UNCW had two critical first and third set victories en route to registering a 3-1 win over sixth-seeded William &  Mary in Friday’s second quarterfinal match of the 2013 Colonial Athletic Association Volleyball Championship held in North Charleston, S.C.

Both teams split the only two matches they played during the regular season and Friday’s tilt carried out in similar fashion. UNCW saved its best for the first and third sets, winning with identical 25-10 scores before holding on to capture the fourth to advance to Saturday’s semifinals for the first time since 1995. Senior Christi Laite led the attack offensively with 15 kills – hitting .257 –while Meredith Peacock, Nicole Lott and Courtney Porter all finished with five block apiece.

UNCW, making its first appearance in the championship tournament since 2000, improved to 20-9 on the season and moves on to face second-seeded Northeastern in Saturday's second semifinal at 4 p.m. William & Mary, appearing in its 24th championship, fell to 11-21 on the year. William & Mary senior Celine Alasomuka tied a match-high with 19 digs, while redshirt junior Paulette Grand Pre notched a double-double with 10 kills and 15 digs in defeat.

"It means everything," Laite said. "We've been through just about everything. Some serious downs, but a lot of ups and I would say this is just about the biggest up that you could get and I'm glad this happened my senior year. No better way to go out."

The Seahawks came out firing on all cylinders in the first set, jumping out to a quick 15-7 lead before easily closing it out on a 10-3 run. UNCW hit .250 compared to the Tribe’s -.114 mark and also owned a 5-1 blocks advantage.

In the second set, the Tribe battled and took advantage of some lengthy rallies. William & Mary registered 17 kills, including five from Mallory Brickerd and four from Dessi Koleva, also recording 27 digs as a team. Two forced errors from UNCW allowed the Tribe to head into the break with a 1-1 tie.

The third set, though, played out eerily similar to the first for both squads. UNCW wasted no time, jumping out a 14-2 lead after a monster kill from Morgan Kline. Even more impressive was the Seahawks’ continued dominance on the blocking end, finishing the set with four. They also hit .213 and grabbed all the momentum heading into the fourth set.

The fourth and final set went toe-to-toe, with the lead failing to grow above three points until UNCW stretch a short edge to 20-17 following an attack error from Grand Pre. The Seahawks even pushed the lead to 23-18, but the Tribe fought back to knot it up at 24-24.

The match finally ended, however, as Leah Gagliardi spiked home the game-winner off a deflection in between a William & Mary service error, for the win.

"It really means a lot to the program," UNCW coach Amy Bambenek said. "It's all do to our players and all the hard work that they've put in these past couple of years."