GREENVILLE, N.C. – ECU snapped a 16-match losing streak to Tulsa Sunday afternoon, defeating the Golden Hurricane 3-1 (15-25, 25-20, 25-19, 25-20) in an American Athletic Conference volleyball match inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
Team Records: ECU (10-6, 2-2 AAC) | Tulsa (7-9, 1-3 AAC)
In a contest packed with excellent defensive plays, the teams combined for 185 digs and 21 total blocks. Tulsa held the upper hand in the dig column, 94-91, but the Pirates registered a season-high 14 total blocks to the visitors’ seven. Hitting just .011 in the first two sets, ECU rebounded with .333 and .245 efforts in the final two stanzas to finish with .141 efficiency while the Golden Hurricane committed 31 attacking errors and ended up firing at a .106 clip. Each team had five players reach double-digit digs.
Sophomore libero Brandee Markwith led the Purple and Gold with 23 digs while senior defensive specialist Alex Jessett came up with a career-high 18. Freshman setter Shelby Martin tallied her second-straight double-double with 34 assists and 12 digs, adding seven kills to fall just short of a triple-double. Senior outside hitter Lael Ceriani also posted a double-double, notching 11 kills and 11 digs. Senior outside hitter Ashton Mares added 10 digs and four blocks. Offensively, senior middle hitter Natalie Montini put down a team-high 13 kills and racked up eight a squad-best eight blocks. As for Tulsa, Emily Thorson notched a match-high 15 kills while Taylor Horsfall piled up 33 digs.
Torbett’s Take: “I am very excited for and proud of our team today. Even after a rough start in set one, I believed we would respond. We hadn’t beaten them in a really long time. Tulsa has a historically successful program and we are building toward that here. We have taken some big steps this season.”
Set One: ECU got off to a hot start to open the match, taking a 5-0 lead after a solo block by freshman right side Bri Wood. Following a Tulsa timeout, the Pirates maintained a four-point edge at 7-3 before the Golden Hurricane ripped off a 10-0 run to push in front for good. ECU scored three straight with Tulsa leading 24-12 before Thorson ended the frame with a kill.
Set Two: The teams went point for point early in the second stanza, but the Pirates were able to establish a little bit of breathing room with a 16-13 advantage when Mares scored on a kill. The Golden Hurricane rallied within 16-15 before ECU netted six of the next seven points to put the set away. Tulsa rallied within 22-19 with three consecutive points but it was too late as the Pirates eventually captured the set by five to tie the match at the intermission.
Set Three: A 4-0 run midway through the third frame afforded ECU an 11-8 lead and the Pirates extended the cushion to 14-9 thanks to a Golden Hurricane attacking error. The Purple and Gold were not threatened again, rolling to the six-point margin of victory.
Set Four: Tulsa forced ECU to use an early timeout in the fourth when consecutive kills by Callie Cook made it 10-6 in favor of the visitors. Unfazed, the Pirates responded with an 11-3 run capped by a Montini kill to turn the tables and take a 17-13 lead. The Golden Hurricane mustered one more rally, drawing within 18-17, but ECU outscored Tulsa 7-3 the rest of the way.
News And Notes
· ECU defeated Tulsa for the first time as a member of the American Athletic Conference, leaving SMU and Temple as the only two teams the Pirates have yet to beat since joining the league prior to the 2014 campaign.
· The Pirates’ 91 digs are the most in a four-set match since recording 97 in a 3-1 setback at Campbell Sept. 10, 2013.
· ECU had five players notch double-digit digs for the first time this season.
· The Pirates have started American Conference play at 2-2 for the first time in four seasons as a member of the league.
· ECU’s 14 total blocks matches its season high also set against Gardner-Webb on Sept. 8.
Up Next: ECU travels north next weekend to play a pair of AAC matches at Temple (Friday) and UConn (Sunday).