Pirates Drop 3-2 Heartbreaker to Southern Miss
Sept. 28, 2012
GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina out-hit Southern Miss .207 to .189 and Nicole Willis recorded a double-double, but the Pirates were unable to pull out a win as they dropped a tough 3-2 (17-25, 25-17, 22-25, 25-17, 10-15) decision to the Golden Eagles Friday night.
Willis led the team with 15 kills and posted 12 digs, while adding three block assists, a pair of assists and a service ace. Her 15 kills mark the sixth consecutive match in which Willis has lead the team offensively. The junior outside hitter’s double-double is her sixth of the year. Hannah Allgood narrowly missed a double-double of her own as she tallied nine kills, 12 digs, two assists and as many aces on the night. Virginia Fitch has been on fire as of late as the junior posted a match-high nine total blocks to go with seven kills and a .455 hitting percentage. Senior Kelly Derby reached double-figure kills in the setback with 12, and added a pair of blocks.
Defensively for East Carolina (1-14, 0-4 C-USA), Shelby Beasley racked up a match-high 34 digs. She also posted a trio of service aces and three assists. Sophomore Zarah Cecich led the squad with 28 assists and added six kills on eight attempts without committing an error for a .750 attack percentage. Junior Kasey Kavanaugh tallied 16 assists and four total blocks in the team effort.
Southern Miss (6-9, 2-1 C-USA) broke a 7-7 tie in the first set on a kill by Lydia Bonner and never looked back. The Golden Eagles went on to tally 11 kills in the set and win by an eight-point margin (25-17).
The loss did not faze ECU. The Pirates came out for game two with determined looks upon their faces and battled Southern Miss early in the frame. Cecich laid down back-to-back kills which would mark the turning point for the Purple and Gold as the Pirates took an 8-7 advantage over the Golden Eagles and never relinquished the lead. From there, the Pirates went on an 8-0 run forcing a visitor timeout. With the score 18-12, the Pirates put the set away on another kill by Cecich followed by an attack error by USM to win, 25-17.
Set three was a battle in which Southern Miss held the slight edge. After taking a 6-5 lead on a kill off the hands of Quinci Hayward, the Golden Eagles remained ahead for the remainder of the set. Down 18-9, the Pirates refused to quit and rallied to pull within two (22-24). Just as it looked as if East Carolina could pull out a come-from-behind win, Southern Miss’ Jasmine Crowell ended the game with a kill.
With an abrupt end to their rally, the Pirates brushed it off and returned to the court for set four and jumped out in front 3-1 to start the set. East Carolina played hard and hit .323 in the set while knocking down 14 kills. The hosts limited USM to a .147 attack percentage and took the last lead of the set, 13-12, on a kill by Willis which sparked a 7-1 run and helped the Pirates to a 25-17 victory in the fourth set.
Forcing a fifth game, East Carolina began the frame on a 3-0 run taking advantage of a trio of attack errors by the Golden Eagles to start the set. As the Pirates reached the eight-point mark, USM was trailing by three and called for a timeout. Following the break, the Golden Eagles tallied five consecutive points to take a two-point lead (10-8) over the Pirates. Despite a pair of timeouts of their own, ECU was unable to recover and watched its lead disappear while Southern Miss took the fifth set, 15-10, and the match, 3-2.
The Pirates will dust themselves off and return to the court on Sunday, Sept. 30, for a 1 p.m. match versus Conference USA rival UCF. Live stats and video will be available on www.ecupirates.com.