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WVU Goes 2-0 in Day One of Mountaineer Invitational

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. (September 16, 2021) – The Mountaineers (10-0) began competition at the Mountaineer Invitational in Morgantown, West Virginia, on Sept. 16, with a double-header. The squad opened the tournament with a 2-0 tournament record. WVU beat George Washington (0-9) in four sets in the first match, at the WVU Coliseum, in set scores of 25-18, 25-18, 24-26 and 25-8.

For the first time since 2017, WVU has won 10 straight matches. 

Following the win, West Virginia saw action in a match against UMBC (4-9). The Mountaineers swept the Retrievers in set scores of 25-15, 25-16 and 25-21.

“It was a good day for us with those two wins,” said coach Reed Sunahara. “I thought we played a lot better in the second match. We look forward to our match up with Penn State. They are a perennial power.” 

Redshirt senior setter Adrian Ell led the squad on day one of the Mountaineer Invitational with 30 kills to average 4.29 per set. Not far behind was fifth-year middle blocker Briana Lynch, who recorded 29 kills on the night. 

Senior setter Lacey Zerwas recorded 70 total assists, while freshman middle blocker Madison Page tallied a team-high of eight blocks.

In the Mountaineer’s first win of the night over the Colonials, three Mountaineers recorded double-digit kills. That includes Lynch with a season high of 17, along with Ell and senior outside hitter Kristin Lux, both with a season high of 16. 

Senior outside hitter Natali Petrova recorded a season-high 16 digs. She was followed by senior defensive specialist Alexa Hasting who recorded 11 digs, and sophomore outside hitter Skye Stokes who dug 10 balls. Zerwas also recorded 41 assists in the win.

The Mountaineers posted 54 kills for a . 224hitting efficiency, along with nine team blocks in the win. The Colonials had 28 kills for a .015 hitting efficiency and three team blocks. 

West Virginia opened the match with a kill from Ell, but George Washington went on a 3-0 run to take the lead. WVU followed with a 4-0 run of its own to take a two-point lead, 7-5. The teams alternated a few short runs until WVU’s 3-0 run nearing the end of the set to take set point, 25-17. GW attempted a comeback, but WVU took the first set, 25-18.

The Colonials struck first in the second set, but a 3-0 run from the Mountaineers gave the squad a 5-4 lead. Two more WVU runs extended the lead to 12-7. The teams alternated points, but WVU tallied two kills to bring the match to set point. A George Washington attack error ended the set in West Virginia’s favor, 25-18. 

An early lead from George Washington opened set three. West Virginia responded with a 3-0 run to tie the game, 5-5. The teams battled back-and-forth with a close score throughout the set. With the score tied 23-23, GW gained a point on a WVU attack error for set point. WVU held on with a kill from Lynch, but the Colonials took the 26-24 victory in the third set. 

WVU opened the fourth set, and the teams battled with alternating points. The Mountaineers went on a 10-0 run to ultimately take the lead, 14-3. The squad did not look back and tallied a 9-1 scoring run. The set ended with a kill from Lux, and WVU took the game, 25-8. 

In the final match of the day, four Mountaineers tallied double-digit numbers. Ell recorded 14 kills, while Lynch had 12. They were joined by Zerwas who tallied 29 assists, and Hasting with 11 digs in the match.

The Mountaineers posted 42 kills for a .168 hitting efficiency, along with eight team blocks in the win. The Retrievers had 16 kills for a .168 hitting efficiency and five team blocks.

UMBC struck first in set one, but the teams continued to alternate points. WVU went on a 3-0 run, followed by a 5-0 run to take the lead, 14-8. The teams then traded points throughout the set. West Virginia secured the lead, and a kill from Petrova closed out the first set in WVU’s favor, 25-15.

Early in set two, WVU went on a 5-0 run to secure an early lead. The teams traded points, but West Virginia continued with a few scoring runs to take a 10-point lead, 18-8. After alternating points at the end of the set, a kill from Lux gave WVU a 25-16 set win. 

The Mountaineers opened set three with a 2-0 run. The squad held a close lead over UMBC throughout the set. Traded points kept the game interesting as the set came to a near end. A kill from Lynch secured WVU’s 25-21 win and second win of the night. 

The Mountaineers and the Colonials have met 31 times in program history, with George Washington holding a 22-9 advantage in the all-time series. 

It’s been eight years since WVU and UMBC last squared off. The two teams have now played 10 times since 1979, with the Mountaineers holding a 9-1 edge in the all-time series. 

The squad will close out the tournament with a match against No. 20 Penn State (5-3) on Friday. The showdown will begin at 7 p.m. Live streams and live stats for the matches can be found
West Virginia and seven-time National Champions Penn State will go head-to-head for the 29th time in program history. The Nittany Lions hold a 0-28 record in the all-time series, with the PSU claiming their latest victory over WVU on Aug. 26, 2017, in Morgantown, at the WVU Invitational. 

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