Pirates Rally Past UNC Wilmington, 3-1
Sept. 9, 2011
WILMINGTON, N.C. - After dropping the first set to UNC Wilmington Friday night, East Carolina responded with wins in the next three frames to post a 3-1 victory over the Seahawks at Hanover Hall in both teams' first match of the Hilton Garden Inn Mayfaire Tournament.
ECU (2-3) picked up its 15th-straight win over UNCW (3-5) while also grabbing its first true road win since a 3-1 triumph over Campbell Sept. 28, 2009.
Senior Britney Roper paced the Pirates offensively with 12 kills on 27 attempts while committing just three errors for a sparkling .333 hitting mark. She also tied her season high with three service aces and contributed a block assist. In the back row, sophomore Shelby Beasley racked up a match-high 15 digs as the only player on either side to reach double figures. In terms of blocking, team co-leader and redshirt junior Kelly Derby was credited with four (three assists). Additionally, in her first collegiate start, freshman Zarah Cecich handed out 25 assists.
East Carolina produced its highest hitting percentage (.253) of any match this season, putting down 34 kills on 87 attempts with 12 errors. ECU was buoyed by respective .409 and .421 attack performances in the second and third sets. The Pirates also ended up out-digging the home side 35-32 while out-blocking their fourth consecutive opponent to the tune of 7-4.
ECU forged itself a 4-2 advantage in the beginning of the match when Morgan Kline committed an attack error. With the score close at 9-8 in favor of UNC Wilmington, the Pirates' passing broke down as the Seahawks put together three service aces in four rallies to take a 13-8 lead. The respite did no good for East Carolina as UNCW raced even further ahead, 20-9, on its way to a 25-13 set win.
A Roper kill afforded the Pirates a 5-2 advantage in the second frame and senior Amanda Lutzow kept the Seahawks at bay with a score of her own to make it 9-5. ECU did not let up from there, taking seven of the next 11 rallies to establish a 16-9 cushion. Three Pirate kills and two UNC Wilmington attack errors were part of a 6-1 run for East Carolina that proved to be decisive as ECU went into the intermission having tied the match at one set apiece.
The Pirates took a quick timeout in the third interval after finding themselves on the losing side of a 4-1 score line. However, the Seahawks began to struggle offensively out of the respite while East Carolina found its edge to push in front 11-6. After sophomore Whitney Campbell put down a kill from the left side to make it 17-9, UNCW was able to draw within 20-13 on a Zarah Cecich service error. However, the Pirates scored three-straight times to remove the possibility of a late Seahawk rally - taking the frame 25-15.
UNC Wilmington kept the fourth set close at the outset, attempting to send the match to a deciding fifth set, but with the score tied at 10, ECU used kills from Campbell, Lutzow and Roper to create some breathing room and force a Seahawk timeout. Beasley committed a service error which allowed UNCW to pull within two points at 18-16, but UNC Wilmington would score just once more as the Pirates blitzed the Seahawks 7-1 the rest of the way to record a contest-clinching 25-17 win.
East Carolina will play a pair of matches Saturday to close out tournament action, facing NC State at 10:30 a.m., before returning for a showdown with Charleston Southern at 5 p.m. The Wolfpack outlasted the Buccaneers 3-1 in Friday's earlier match.