College Volleyball Final – Guilford 3, N.C. Wesleyan 2

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Junior Kelsey Ruehling (Three Rivers, Calif./Woodlake Union)had 20 kills and sophomore teammate Becca Benfield (Lawndale, N.C./Burns) added 18 in Guilford College’s 3-2 volleyball win over visiting North Carolina Wesleyan College Friday.

The Quakers (5-13) held off the shorthanded Battling Bishops (4-15), 25-15, 25-17, 20-25, 18-25, 15-6, for their second win in three outings. North Carolina Wesleyan played without kills leader Tori Stewart and assists leader Kayla White due to injury.

Guilford jumped on its guests with a pair of convincing wins in the first two sets. The Quakers hit .324 as a team in the opening set and .357 in the next. Ruehling had nine kills and Benfield eight as the Quakers built a 2-0 advantage.

North Carolina Wesleyan recovered and took advantage of 13 Quakers’ hitting errors and staved off elimination with a 25-20 win. Neither squad led by more than three points until the Bishops closed with a 9-2 run to force a fourth set.

Ruehling and Benfield combined for 12 putaways in the fourth set, but Guilford had 10 hitting errors to North Carolina Wesleyan’s two. A Ruehling kill brought the Quakers to within 15-14, but North Carolina Wesleyan outscored Guilford, 10-4, down the stretch.

Guilford gathered itself and raced to a 9-1 lead in the decisive set. Maile Munro served the Quakers to a 5-0 edge as N.C. Wesleyan had three early hitting errors. A Beth Bradham kill got the Bishops on the board, but another miscue returned serve to the Quakers. Rookie Taylor Creed banged home consecutive kills, followed by Ruehling’s sixth and seventh aces, and Guilford never looked back.

With her parents in the stands all the way from California, Ruehling turned in her best effort of the season with 20 kills on .340 hitting. She also added a team-high 16 digs, seven aces and a block. Benfield, who sang the National Anthem prior to the game as is her custom, enjoyed a career night with 18 kills on .483 hitting. Maile Munro set up 45 kills and also had an ace and five digs. Creed finished with nine putaways and Brooke Herr added 14 digs.

Bradham and Emily McLain paced North Carolina Wesleyan’s offense with eight kills apiece. Setter Ayla Brewer finished with 23 assists and 11 digs. The Bishops’ Evie Hunter led all students with 17 digs. Samantha Morton added six kills and a match-best five blocks.

Coach Emily Gann’s club has now won each of the last two meetings with North Carolina Wesleyan. Her
Quakers visit Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) rival Hollins University Tuesday (10/14). The Bishops resume USA South Athletic Conference play Wednesday (10/15) at home versus Mary Baldwin College.