CARROLLTON, Ga. - The first five-set match of the 2019 season did not go the way of the wolf on Friday evening in South Carolina, as the West Georgia Wolves fell 3-2 to the Lander Bearcats in the final non-conference match before Gulf South Conference play begins on Tuesday.
The loss drops West Georgia's record to 4-6 on the season while the Bearcats move to 8-1 overall this year. West Georgia kept the hitting errors to a minimum on Friday evening, committing just 22 as a team against Lander, but the Wolves lost the serving game battle, as the Bearcats picked up 17 points in the serving game as opposed to the Wolves' nine.
In the opening set, neither team could gain a strong foothold on a lead, as the two teams had a back-and-forth battle for the first 35 points of the season. West Georgia took the first significant advantage of the frame, taking a 20-15 lead that was part of an 8-3 run that ended the first set with a 25-18 victory for the Wolves. The second set was a mirror image of the first, as neither team held a large lead until the Bearcats created separation at 19-14 before finishing off the set at 25-20 and tying the match at 1-1.
Things looked bleak early in the fourth set, as Lander jumped out to a 7-2 advantage early in the set. West Georgia fired right back with an 8-3 run to tie the set at 10-10. The Wolves then won the race to 20, taking a three-point lead and kept it there, winning the third and taking a 2-1 lead with a 25-22 victory.
In the fourth set, the two teams were neck-and-neck for nearly the entire frame until the final six points, as Lander reeled off five of the final six points of the set to take a 25-20 victory and force a fifth and deciding set.
The Wolves led 13-11 in the fifth set only to have Lander tie the set at 13-13. A block from Madi Fleming and Carrington Terrell put the Wolves on match point at 14-13, but a pair of points from the Bearcats opened up a see-saw battle that ended with three consecutive kills from Lander to give the Bearcats a 23-21 victory.
Tierra White set a new single-match high for kills in this one with 21 kills, committing just four errors for a stellar .472 hitting percentage on the night. McKenna Wharton had a double-double in the game, blasting 16 kills and picking up 24 digs as well. Terrell added 11 kills as the third hitter with double-digit kills. Emilee Harris had 17 digs and Anjelica Webb pitched in 16. Fleming had a career-high 60 assists in the loss.
West Georgia will play the first Gulf South Conference match of the season on Tuesday evening, taking on Lee on the road before a home battle with Shorter next Thursday.