Volleyball Suffers Another Heartbreaker
Sept. 26, 2008
GREENVILLE, N.C. -- For the second straight match, the East Carolina volleyball team went the full five sets. Again, however, the Pirates found themselves on the short end of a 3-2 (25-20, 17-25, 18-25, 25-19, 19-17) outcome on Friday night inside Minges Coliseum. With the loss, ECU's record falls to 11-6 overall and 1-1 in Conference USA matches. The Pirates also fall to 0-4 in matches that have gone to five sets this year.
To open tonight's action, UAB started hot, taking a 9-5 lead on the Pirates before ECU rallied to knot the score at 10 each. The Blazers then surged ahead again, taking a 19-14 advantage. East Carolina battled back, but could not get closer than four points the rest of the way, eventually falling 25-20. Lizzy Bruin, Melissa Zentner and Erica Banning all had solid first sets, as they had a combined hitting percentage of .520 with Bruin and Zentner recording five kills and Banning four. On defense, Trish Monroe and Amanda Lutzow had the top marks with five digs apiece.
In the second set, the Pirates executed their offense much more efficiently and got out to a strong start, taking a 7-4 advantage. This time it was the Blazers who came storming back to force a 9-9 tie. East Carolina forged ahead again, taking leads of 17-12 and 21-15 before winning the set 25-17. To give the Pirates point number 23 in the set, Lutzow recorded the first solo block of her career and kept the ball, and momentum, on the side of the Pirates. ECU spread out the offense in the second set, as five players recorded at least two kills. Hannah Fenker and Lutzow paced the defense with three digs each.
East Carolina stayed in their offensive flow to begin the third set as the team jumped ahead 6-2. The Pirates would then extend their lead to 11-5, 16-9 and 20-13 before a UAB comeback made the final score 25-18 in favor of the home team. For the set, ECU held the Blazers to a -.062 hitting percentage, while the Pirates hit .286. ECU again had a balanced offensive attack, as five players had at least two kills, with Lutzow's four leading the way.
Momentum began to shift in set four, as the Blazers were the ones who got out to the early lead. UAB pulled ahead by four points at 10-6 and would not let the lead shrink to less than four points the rest of the way, as it won 25-19. In a complete reversal from set three, the Blazers hit .424 for the set and tallied 18 kills, while holding ECU to just a .111 attack percentage.
In the final set, momentum would swing again as it was the Pirates holding the 4-1 lead, before pushing it out to 8-3. The Blazers would not give in, however, as they battled back to cut the lead back to three points, at 9-6. ECU pushed points again, taking a 12-8 lead before surrendering four straight points to UAB, knotting the game as 12 points each. Ties would be a regular feature until the end of the match, as the teams were deadlocked at 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17 points. The Pirates had a match point with the 14-13 lead, but a Savannah Pegg kill gave the Blazers the point and ECU would not have another match point chance. UAB had three match point opportunities before finally earning the victory on Ivana Bozic's 15th kill of the match followed by a Lutzow error, leading to the 19-17 win.
For the match, Zentner carried over her fine play from last weekend's East Carolina Invitational and led the team with 16 kills. Bruin added 13 and Banning tallied 11 on the night, as well as a team leading four blocks. Fenker helped the offense run all night, collecting 48 assists. As usual, Monroe led the defense in digs with 17. Lutzow finished one kill shy of her second consecutive double-double, finishing with nine kills and 12 digs. Fenker also narrowly missed out on a double-double, as she recorded nine digs to go along with her 48 assists during the match.
The Pirates will take tomorrow to regroup before returning to the court on Sunday for a 1 p.m. showdown with Memphis inside Minges Coliseum.