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Nov. 8, 2007
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - UNC Asheville benefited from three kills each from Lauren Ficker and Kelsey Benorden in the fifth and deciding game, as the Bulldogs downed the USC Upstate volleyball team, 3-2 (30-23, 27-30, 17-30, 30-19, 15-11) in non-conference action on Thursday night at the Hodge Center.
Sophomores Jesicah Ambrisco (Iowa City, Iowa/Regina Catholic) and Katie Downey (Belleville, Ill./Belleville West) led the Spartans with 18 and 17 kills, respectively. Downey added five blocks. Junior Jovana Lubura (Beograd, Serbia/New Mexico Military Institute) added 10 kills and three blocks. Four Spartans chipped in double-digit digs, with junior Tijana Knezevic (Indija, Serbia/New Mexico Military Institute) posting a career-high 18 lead the squad. She added four blocks and three kills. Junior Jenna Leslie (Houston, Texas/Westfield) added a season-high six kills, four assists and 14 digs and freshman Megan Healey (St. Louis, Mo./Ursuline Academy) finished with 14 digs, giving her a team-high 376 on the season. Sophomore Morgan Bucciferro (Joliet, Ill./Minooka Community) posted her sixth double-double of the season with 27 assists and 11 digs and junior Holly Mauldin (Columbia, S.C./Irmo) posted 23 assists and six digs.
After falling behind 2-0 in the fifth game, Upstate (11-17 overall) answered with four straight points, capping the run on kills from Downey and Ambrisco. Asheville (10-21 overall) answered back with two points and the teams alternated points until a Spartan ball-handling error gave the Bulldogs an 8-7 lead. From there, the Bulldogs went on a 7-4 run to close the game.
Kelsey Benorden paced the Bulldogs out of the gate, posting six kills in the opening game, leading the team to a 30-23 win. The Bulldogs hit .395 and took a 25-20 lead before Upstate closed within six points at 28-22. That was as close as it could get, however, as kills from Lauren Ficker and Alysha Greer closed the game.
Upstate answered right back in the second game, building a 15-9 lead before the Bulldogs tied the game at 17. The Spartans worked to build the lead back to four after two points off the serve of Knezevic and were able to hold on, with Downey slamming home her sixth kill of the game to cap the 30-27 win. Ambrisco also added six kills in the game as Upstate hit .386 in the game.
The Spartans used 11 Bulldog errors in the third game to take it, 30-17. Downey posted five kills and Ambrisco and Lubura each added four while Knezevic added six digs. Three points off Mauldin's service, capping with an ace, gave the Spartans a 27-14 lead. From there, the teams alternated points before Lubura posted the game-clinching kill.
Asheville staved off the Spartans in the fourth game, posting a 30-19 win. The Bulldogs rolled out to an 11-5 lead after three points off the serve of McDaniel and never looked back. With a 24-17 lead, libero Raquel Miotto served for four more points, icing the game.
Benorden led the Bulldogs with 21 kills and eight digs while Ficker posted added 16 kills and a career-high eight blocks. McDaniel added 10 digs and 43 assists and Heather Burns added 10 kills and five blocks.
The Spartans finish the 2007 season at 11-17 overall, the 12th-consecutive 10-win season under 12th-year head coach Jennifer Calloway. It was the Spartans' first at the Division I level, after spending the last 17 years at Division II.