Pirates Lose Four Set Battle to Tulane

UABSPORTS.COM Kierra Lee-Dunson
Kierra Lee-Dunson

Oct. 13, 2013

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GREENVILLE, N.C. –Nicole Willis recorded her 12th double-double of the year and Kierra Lee-Dunson knocked down a career-best 11 kills, but the East Carolina volleyball team was unable to hold off Tulane as the Pirates dropped a 3-1 [22-25, 14-25, 30-28, 21-25] decision to the Green Wave on Sunday afternoon at Minges Coliseum.

Willis registered 11 kills and 14 digs with a career-high six total blocks for East Carolina (10-12, 1-4 C-USA). Lee-Dunson also led the Pirates with 11 kills, while adding three block assists, and a .381 attack percentage. Zarah Cecich set the tone for the offense with 34 assists to go along with six digs and two blocks. Shelby Beasley tallied a match-high 25 digs, while Virginia Fitch came off the bench and added a season-best seven kills and four total blocks while hitting .600 in the contest.

The Pirates started fast taking a 7-3 lead in the first set, but Tulane (18-2, 4-1 C-USA) battled back and tied the game at 14-14 as the Green Wave took advantage of three consecutive ECU attack errors. Tulane managed to come from behind and take an 18-17 lead on a kill from Tea Juric that would put the visitors ahead for good. Despite the Pirates’ efforts, the Green Wave closed out the set, 25-22.

East Carolina struggled in the second frame and after an early 5-5 tie, Tulane controlled the frame as the Green Wave hit .289 and limited the Pirates to .143 hitting. The Pirates never backed down, but eventually fell to the visitors, 25-14.

Following the intermission, the Pirates fell behind Tulane 4-0 but fought back and pulled within two (12-14). East Carolina stayed hot on the Green Wave’s heels and tied the game at 18-all on back-to-back kills by Whitney Campbell. The Pirates and Green Wave battled each other point for point and the frame saw eight set points. With the game knotted at 28-28, Campbell stepped up and knocked down another set of back-to-back kills to give ECU the set win, 30-28.

With the momentum still flowing from the high-scoring set three, the Pirates started the fourth game with a kill from Fitch. During the fourth and final set, East Carolina and Tulane battled through eight ties and three lead changes, before the Green Wave claimed the game, 25-21.

“We started out the match really well and built a good lead to start out with,” Head coach Julie Torbett said. “I don’t know if that caused us to relax a little bit, but I knew Tulane would battle back. If you take the second set out, it was a pretty good match and a good battle. We showed a lot of improvements. We’re going to have to limit our unforced errors. That’s the thing we’ve been working on. When we make the mistakes, it’s really hard to credit the other team for it. We’re just making the mistakes and that’s giving them points. We miss serves at bad times; we hit the ball into the net or out of bounds. That’s nothing the other team is doing. The good thing is that means we can fix it.

“I thought Kierra (Lee-Dunson) played really well, she hit .381. Virginia (Fitch) came in off the bench to have a really nice performance also. Overall it was a pretty good match.”

The Pirates will hit the road for a pair of road games at Marshall and Tulsa next weekend. ECU will take on the Thundering Herd on Friday, October 18, at 5:30 p.m., before battling it out with the Golden Hurricane on Sunday, October 20, at 1 p.m. Live stats will be available for both contests on ECUPirates.com.