Pirates Falter At Black & Gold Challenge
Sept. 13, 2008
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - The East Carolina volleyball team finished its last non-conference road trip by suffering two losses inside Reynolds Gym at the Black & Gold Challenge in Winston-Salem on Saturday afternoon. In the early afternoon match, the Pirates were swept by the host Wake Forest Demon Deacons before being defeated 3-0 again in the later match against Western Michigan. ECU's overall record is now 8-4.
The Pirates first faced a fired-up Wake Forest squad, which had handed the Broncos their first loss of the season in a five-set thriller on Friday night. After keeping the score close early, the Pirates could not keep up the pace. In the opening set, which featured nine ties, neither team was able to gain a lead of more than four points until the Demon Deacons held a 19-15 advantage. That seemed to be the turning point of the whole match, as the hosts were in control the rest of the way. At the end of the first set, a late 12-2 run for Wake Forest proved to be the difference, as the Pirates fell by a final score of 25-15.
The Demon Deacons kept the momentum going in set two, as they held leads of 8-4, 11-5, and 21-9 before winning 25-11, the fewest points ECU had scored in a set all year. It seemed the Pirates were never able to get into an offensive flow during the set, as they scored consecutive points just once. In the beginning of set three, a more focused Pirate team was on the floor, as it was able to take an early 6-3 lead. East Carolina was not able to keep it going, however, as Wake Forest tied the set at 8-8 before taking a 13-9 lead and eventually winning by the same 25-15 score as the first set. During the match, junior right side hitter Stephanie Turner tallied a team-high eight kills and freshman outside hitter Amanda Lutzow picked up eight digs to lead the way.
In the late afternoon contest, the Pirates faced a Western Michigan squad that had been extended to five sets in both of its previous matches at the Challenge. Much like the Wake Forest match, set one was tight throughout and neither team was ahead by more than two points until Western Michigan pulled out to a 14-11 advantage. The Broncos built a 17-13 lead before a Pirate rally closed the gap to 20-19. ECU could not force a tie and Western Michigan held on for the narrow 25-23 victory. In set two, the Pirates had no answer for junior outside hitter Michelle Moore, who tallied three quick kills as the Broncos jumped ahead 10-1 and never looked back in defeating East Carolina 25-8. The final set showed Western Michigan pulling out to a 10-3 lead, a deficit which proved too great for the Pirates to overcome, as they fell 25-11.
In the loss to the Broncos, the Pirates did not record a block for the first time all season, but also did not allow Western Michigan to have any blocks, after Wake Forest tallied 11 total blocks in the earlier match. Senior defensive specialist Trish Monroe reached the 20 dig mark for the fourth time in the last six matches. The loss was extra bitter for her, as she was facing the coach who recruited her to East Carolina in the Broncos' Colleen Munson. For the second weekend in a row, Monroe was also ECU's representative on the All-Tournament team.
Next up for the Pirates is their Sept. 17th home match against UNC Wilmington at 7 p.m. The team then hosts its final non-conference tournament of the year next weekend with the East Carolina Invitational on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 19-20.