Pirates Fall in Straight Sets at Southern Miss

UABSPORTS.COM Virginia Fitch
Virginia Fitch

Nov. 1, 2013

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. –Sophomore middle hitter Kierra Lee-Dunson hit a team-leading .600, but the East Carolina volleyball team was unable to overcome a hot-hitting Southern Miss team Friday night as the Pirates dropped a 3-0 [13-25, 13-25, 14-25] contest to the Golden Eagles. ECU falls to 11-16 on the year and 2-8 in Conference USA action, while Southern Miss improves to 13-12 overall and 4-6 in league play.

Lee-Dunson led the Pirates’ offensive attack as she knocked down six kills on 10 attempts without committing an error for a .600 attack percentage. Senior middle hitter Virginia Fitch also added six kills while hitting .308 for ECU and senior opposite Nicole Willis led the squad with seven kills to go along with five digs. Junior setter Zarah Cecich contributed 18 assists, while senior libero Shelby Beasley led the defense with 10 digs.

“Unfortunately the team did not play well tonight,” Head coach Julie Torbett said. “Nicole (Willis) has been our offensive leader all year and despite collecting seven kills, she hit .000. We struggled to get anything going with the exception of our middles, Virginia (Fitch) and Kierra (Lee-Dunson). Virginia and Kierra hit well, but our blocking was not there and that affected our overall defense.”

The Pirates hit .128 in the three-set loss, while the Golden Eagles posted a .478 attack percentage. The hosts held the edge in kills (50-28), assists (46-28), digs (35-26) and blocks (7.0-2.0).

Southern Miss started off the match with a 3-0 lead in the first set and never looked back as the Golden Eagles never allowed the Pirates to come closer than two points throughout the frame. The Pirates struggled offensively as they fell behind 16-9 after the Golden Eagles rattled off three-consecutive points to force an ECU timeout. Following the break, Southern Miss closed the set on a 9-4 run to take a 25-13 win.

East Carolina kept things close in the early part of the second set as the Pirates managed to tie the game 3-3 as they took advantage of a Golden Eagle attack error. However, Southern Miss followed the miscue with a 5-0 run to take an 8-3 lead. The Golden Eagles extended their lead to double-digits (17-7) on a service ace from Jasmine Crowell in the middle of an 8-0 run which put the hosts up 20-7. Southern Miss went on to win set two, 25-13.

The Golden Eagles jumped out in front 4-0 in the third set and as in the first set, never relinquished their lead. The Pirates managed to pull within one (7-6) on back-to-back kills from Willis, but Southern Miss quickly turned the tables on ECU as they went on another 4-0 run. The Golden Eagles continued to control the match as they went on to defeat the Pirates, 25-14, and complete the 3-0 sweep.

Southern Miss had three players in double-figure kills in Quinci Hayward (13), Crowell (12), and Elise Ames (10). Ames hit a match-high .833 as she knocked down 10 kills on 12 attempts without committing an error. Kristen Fleming paced the offense with 38 assists, while Stephany Purdue and Mary Pursell led the defense with seven digs apiece.

The Pirates return to Minges Coliseum for a Sunday afternoon contest against Middle Tennessee on November 3, at 12 noon. Live stats and video will be available on ECUPirates.com.