ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Charleston Southern improved to 4-0 in Big South Conference play as the Buccaneers topped UNC Asheville on Tuesday afternoon at the Justice Center in four sets, 25-19, 28-26, 21-25, 25-20.
Addison Kaderli led four Bucs (9-11, 4-0) in double-digits with 17 kills as CSU hit .283 from the floor as a team in the conference victory. Kylie Klein (12), Connor Malone (11) and Hannah Western (10) joined Kaderli in double-digits as CSU continued their best conference-opening stretch since the 1988 season.
The last time CSU opened conference play with a 4-0 record was the 1988 season. During the stretch, the Bucs opened the season with five straight conference wins posting victories over Coastal Carolina, Radford, Augusta, UNC Asheville and Campbell.
CSU will look to continue its Big South winning streak this weekend as the Bucs host Radford on Friday night in the Buccaneer Field House. First serve between CSU and the Highlanders is set for 7 p.m. on the Big South Network.
Rachel Smith set up the CSU attack with a season-high 49 assists. The freshman setter added seven digs and a block from the floor in the Bucs' win. Madison Martin (17) and Taylor Allman (12) both reached double-digits in digs in the match.
Cara Guthrie led Asheville (7-10, 1-5) with a match-high 25 kills and paced the Bulldogs attack throughout the afternoon with a .367 hitting percentage. Ansley Rooks (13) and Shelby Erickson (10) also posted double-digits in the kills' category. Kailey Hackett (30) and Carter Kennedy (29) combined to set up the offense with 59 assists. Madison Zyburt was the defensive leader with 15 digs.
Malone and Klein combined for a block to give CSU a 14-13 lead in the first set to spark a 5-1 run that gave the Bucs the lead for good in the opening frame. Macey LaPorte added an ace during the stretch as CSU went up 18-14. Kills by Klein, Kaderli, Caitlyn Michalski and Malone combined to give the Bucs a 23-18 advantage. Back-to-back Asheville attack errors ended the set in favor of the Bucs.
Charleston Southern held set point three separate times in the second frame before the Bucs were able to go ahead 2-0 over the Bulldogs. A pair of Kaderli kills put CSU ahead 25-24 and 26-25, but Guthrie was able to respond for Asheville in each instance to extend the set. An Asheville attack error put CSU ahead 27-26 before Malone connected on the set-winner to give the Bucs the 28-26 win heading into the break.
The Bucs held the 21-18 advantage late in the third set before Rooks took over for Asheville in extending the match into a fourth frame. Rooks put away a trio of kills during a 7-0 Bulldog run, while Julia Loveday added a block and a kill to give Asheville the 25-21 set win.
LaPorte nearly served the Bucs out in the fourth set with the freshman utility player putting in an ace to give CSU the 23-18 lead. Klein and Kaderli added the final two kills of the match for the Bucs to close out the 25-20 win.