Pirates Downed By Marshall In League Opener, 3-1
Sept. 16, 2011
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - After winning the first set against Marshall Friday in Huntington, East Carolina could not sustain its momentum, dropping a 3-1 decision at the Cam Henderson Center in the Conference USA opener for both squads.
Senior Britney Roper was the story for the Pirates (2-6, 0-1) in the match, producing a team-best nine kills to go along with a career-high 15 digs. Classmates Amanda Lutzow and Nicole Jones, as well as sophomore Shelby Beasley, joined Roper in double figures with 10 digs. Sophomore Kasey Kavanaugh was also credited with 17 assists.
The Herd (2-7, 1-0) held the upper hand in each category, topping ECU in kills (54-34), assists (50-29), service aces (6-1), digs (74-54) and total blocks (6.0-5.0). It is only the second time all season the Pirates have been outdone in the blocking column.
The teams traded the lead back and forth in the beginning of the opening set, until Varnum put down a kill to make the score 11-8 and force a timeout from the Marshall bench. ECU kept its three-point cushion and extended it to four with a Lutzow kill, making the score 15-11.
A bad set called on the Herd middle hitter then pushed the ECU advantage to 18-13 and drew the home side's last timeout. A Roper attack error pulled Marshall to within 20-17, but the Pirates ran away with five-straight scores to take the first frame by eight.
East Carolina raced out to a 3-0 advantage in the second interval, but Roper attacked wide three rallies later to knot the score. The Herd then went on a 5-2 run to push ahead by three. When a Varnum attack error stretched the Marshall advantage to 10-6, freshman Zarah Cecich subbed in to set for the Pirates. The lead would get as high as seven at 13-6 before head coach Pati Rolf called the squad's second timeout of the set.
A Whitney Campbell solo block stopped the run momentarily, but ECU would come no closer than six the rest of the way as service errors stopped any momentum the Pirates could muster.
A 5-1 stretch by the Herd afforded it some breathing room early. East Carolina made the score 6-4 when Sammie Bane was called for a bad set, but Marshall recovered to go on an 8-3 run to push out to a 14-7 lead. The Herd would build leads of 17-9 and 21-11 on the way to taking a two sets to one lead in the match.
A 4-4 tie in the fourth set quickly turned into a 10-5 Herd lead when Varnum was charged with an attack error. Desire Wilkerson kept the Pirates close when she committed a miscue of her own, making the score 15-12. However, Marshall took control and scored 10 of the last 13 points to cruise to victory.
East Carolina continues play at the Thunder Invitational Saturday, battling Central Michigan at 10:30 a.m. before returning for a showdown with former CAA rival George Mason at 5:30 p.m.