Volleyball Splits Pair Of Matches
Sept. 5, 2008
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The East Carolina volleyball team continued its road trip by splitting the two matches during the first day of action at the High Point University Classic inside the Millis Athletic Center. The Pirates defeated South Carolina State 3-0 before suffering their first loss of the season, 3-2, to High Point. With the split, the team’s record moves to 5-1.
In the day’s opening match, the Pirates went ahead 3-0 in set one and never looked back. As a team, just four attack errors were committed and ECU finished with a dominating .458 hitting percentage. Junior right side hitter Stephanie Turner finished set one with a perfect 1.000 hitting percentage, as she converted all six attempts into kills. In set two the Bulldogs stiffened at the beginning and kept the score close. South Carolina State scored the first two points of the set and ECU was ahead only 9-6 before winning 16 of the next 21 points to win going away, 25-11. The third and final set featured the Pirates jumping out to a 6-1 advantage before the Bulldogs closed to within two at 8-6. South Carolina State continued to hang close, and was only three points down, 15-11, late in the set. From that point on, it was all Pirates as they gained the 25-18 set win.
“We got to play a lot of people this morning and this match was a lot of fun to watch,” head coach Chris Rushing said. “We came out with a lot more focus and intensity than we did last night, which was good to see.”
For the match, Katie Koop took advantage of her first start of the season, and the team’s robust .365 hitting percentage, while totaling 30 assists, her high for the season. Much like Thursday night’s match, a balanced offensive attack was present, as nine Pirates had at least one kill. On defense, blocking was the story for the team as it collected 20 block assists. Turner and junior middle blocker Bobbie Jo Stall led the block party with five assists each.
In the nightcap, the Pirates faced a familiar foe in High Point University, who ECU had beaten 3-0 last weekend at the East Carolina Classic. The Panthers turned the tables on the Pirates this time as the hosts took the match 3-2. In the opening set, after taking an early 4-2 lead, little went right for ECU, as the team finished with a .000 hitting percentage and no blocks. Set two proved to be more of the same; the teams traded points at the beginning and the Pirates led 12-11 before losing the next six points to trail 17-12, and then suffering the loss by an identical 25-17 score. Set three was close throughout, with the Pirates going ahead 13-10 before giving up the next five points to trail 15-13. The Pirates had a set point with a 24-22 lead, but then gave up two points to tie the set at 24. Eventually, East Carolina earned a hard-fought 29-27 win, with freshman outside hitter Amanda Lutzow pounding home the final three Pirate kills. An early lead in set four would deteriorate for the Pirates, as their 16-10 lead would turn into a 23-23 tie. An attack error by High Point’s Ashley Mellott followed by a Hannah Fenker kill for ECU would give the Pirates the 25-23 victory and set up the winner-take-all fifth set. The Panthers’ early 5-1 lead proved to be too much for the Pirates to overcome, as they lost the last set 15-12.
It was a frustrating offensive evening for the team as they posted their lowest hitting percentage of the season, .131, and saw High Point have 12 total blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Lizzy Bruin provided the majority of the offense as she picked up a career-best 17 kills in 33 attempts, good for a .455 hitting percentage. Also setting career-highs on the night was redshirt sophomore middle blocker Erica Banning, who picked up nine block assists and 13 kills for her personal-bests. Senior defensive specialist Trish Monroe picked up a season-high 27 digs, just two shy of her career-high.
“High Point just outthought us tonight. You could tell that they wanted it a little more than we did and they played smarter than us. We had a couple fundamental breakdowns and I think High Point played a very good match,” Rushing said after the match.
The Pirates return to action tomorrow morning at noon when they face Marist College for the first-ever matchup between the two schools. Later in the afternoon at 4:30 p.m. ECU will take on intrastate rival UNC Greensboro in their final match at the High Point University Classic.