Bobcats fall to Bulldogs in NCAA Tournament

Box score

WINGATE, N.C. --- The top-seeded Wingate University women's volleyball team swept eight-seeded Lees-McRae College in straight sets in opening round play of the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional on Friday night in Cuddy Arena.

The Bulldogs (29-1) earned the victory, defeating the Bobcats (25-8) by set scores of 25-12, 25-23, and 25-18, while posting a .270 hitting percentage and tallying 11 blocks. Rebecca Bloemer (Louisville, Ky.) paced the Bulldogs with ten kills and a .429 hitting percentage, while Cory McGowan (Pittsburgh, Pa.) posted a double-double with a match high 12 kills to go along with 11 digs, and Grace Krauser (Louisville, Ky.) paced the Bulldog defense with a match-high five blocks.

Whitney Justice (Connelly Springs, N.C.) closed out a fabulous career with a match-high 12 kills. Justice wrapped up her career with the Bobcats with 1,347 kills, garnering Conference Carolinas Player of the Year honors in each of the last two seasons. The 2009 Daktronics All-American led the conference in hitting percentage during that span, including a career high .455 mark this season in conference play.

Also wrapping up a fine career for the Bobcats was Taylor Stice (Franklin, Tenn.) who ended the 2010 campaign with a personal-best 140 kills. Stice also tallied a personal best 58 blocks on the season, accumulating 151 stuffs for her career.

Megan Mitchell (Minden, Nev.) posted a double-double with 22 assists and 12 digs, while Megan Epperson (St. John, Ind.) tallied a match-high 13 saves for the Bobcats.

The Bobcats opened the first set taking an early 2-0 lead following a Justice kill and a service ace from Chloe Casas (Plano, Texas). The Bulldogs answered with three quick points to take a 3-2 advantage in the frame. Lees-McRae battled back with a 3-2 run to even the score at 5-5 before Wingate responded, launching a 7-1 run to take a 12-6 lead on a block by Krauser and Bloemer. Wingate extended the run to 20-7 closing the first set at 25-12.

The Bulldogs opened the second set with a 14-6 spurt before the Bobcats answered with a 13-6 surge of their own, capped by a Wingate miscue to even the stanza at 19-19. Wingate closed the second set with a 6-4 advantage to take a 2-0 lead in the match.

The teams battled closely in the final frame, opening the set with a 14-14 deadlock before Wingate launched a 6-2 run, opening a 20-16 advantage on an Anna Hilton (Hickory, N.C.) put away. The Bobcats answered with a two point spurt, before the Bulldogs closed the door with a 5-0 run to close out the match with a 25-18 third set victory.

The Bobcats end their season with a 25-8 record, including a perfect 18-0 mark in conference play en route to the program's 12th league title in the past 13 years. Lees-McRae is expected to return eight letter-winners, including first team all-conference selections Epperson and Mitchell.

- LMC -