Oct. 25, 2013
GREENVILLE, N.C. – Nicole Willis, Whitney Campbell and Zarah Cecich each notched a double-double to help lift the East Carolina volleyball team to a 3-1 [20-25, 25-18, 26-24, 25-22] victory over FIU Friday night at Minges Coliseum. The win is the Pirates’ second Conference USA triumph of the year marking the first time the squad has reached that feat since 2009.
With the win ECU improved to 11-14 on the season and 2-6 in C-USA action, while FIU dropped to 9-13 overall and 3-6 in league play.
Willis led the Pirates’ offense with a match-high 18 kills to go along with 12 digs, one assist and one solo block. Willis has led ECU in kills on 23 occasions this season and her double-double marks her 13th of the year. Campbell registered her fourth double-double of the campaign with 14 kills and 15 digs. She also added three block assists and hit .263 in the contest. Cecich set the tone for ECU with a team-best 27 assists and 12 digs for her second double-double of the year. She also contributed two kills, a pair of block assists, and a service ace.
Sophomore middle hitter Kierra Lee-Dunson also recorded double-figure kills as she tied her career-high with 11. Additionally, she posted six total blocks and three digs while hitting .348 for the Pirates. Senior libero Shelby Beasley led the ECU defense with 23 digs as she was one of four Pirates to record double-figure digs. Freshman Bella Borgiotti split setter duties with Cecich as she came in for the final three frames and notched a career-high 24 assists to go along with three block assists and two kills. Senior Virginia Fitch added to the ECU offensive threat as she tallied a season-high eight kills and three total blocks and hit a team-best .438 in the Pirates’ win.
As a team East Carolina hit .214 in the match and knocked down 55 kills. The Pirates added 54 assists and 76 digs to go along with 10.0 total blocks and a pair of aces. FIU finished the match with a .164 attack percentage, while adding 57 kills, 54 assists, 77 digs and 4.0 total blocks.
“We knew coming back home that we could play with FIU,” Head coach Julie Torbett said. “I thought we had a really good turn around performance out of Whitney (Campbell). She started a little slow, as did Virginia Fitch. I changed the lineup after the first set which is not a lineup we’ve been running a lot of, but since Bella (Borgiotti) is healthy, I think that’s a good lineup for us. Nicole (Willis) played pretty well, Shelby (Beasley) played pretty well, everyone played pretty well. And I told them that’s all we need to do to win is to have everybody playing pretty well.”
East Carolina earned its first four-set win after dropping the first game by five points (25-20). ECU started out ahead 3-0 and pushed its lead to 9-5, but the Panthers chipped away and eventually tied the set a 13-all. The ensuing points went back and forth culminating in FIU breaking a 17-17 deadlock and going on to take the first game, 25-20.
The Pirates did not let the first set loss deter them as they bounced back in the second game and rushed out in front to a 10-3 advantage forcing an FIU timeout. ECU never trailed in game two as it did not allow the Panthers to come closer than three points (11-8). The Pirates used a balanced offense to collect a 25-18 win en route to evening the match at one game apiece before the intermission.
Following the break in action, FIU came back in the third set and took an early 5-2 lead over the Pirates. However, ECU would not give up without a fight as the Pirates rallied and took a 13-12 edge on a Lee-Dunson kill. The two teams battled in the third set and found themselves trading leads four times and evening the score a dozen times. With FIU up 24-21 at set point, the Pirates rattled off three consecutive points to even the score at 24-all and forced an FIU timeout. The Pirates came back from the break and took advantage of a pair of Panther miscues to seal the game by a score of 26-24.
The fourth and final set was a battle throughout as the two teams fought through 10 ties. The conference foes rallied and matched each other point-for-point until the set was knotted at 22-all. The Pirates took the lead on an attack error from FIU and Lee-Dunson put the game and match away on back-to-back kills to give East Carolina a 25-22 set win and a 3-1 match victory.
FIU was led by Lucia Castro’s 17 kills and 19 digs for a double-double. Gloria Levorin was the only other Panther to tally a double-figure kill performance with 10 kills. Ashlee Hodgskin finished the contest with a match-high 28 assists, while Jessica Egan added 13 helpers.
The Pirates return to action Sunday, October 27, when they host Florida Atlantic in a 1 p.m. matinee. The contest is ECU Faculty and Staff Day as all faculty and staff can show their OneCard at the ticket window and receive up to four free tickets.