GREENVILLE, N.C. – After defeating Cincinnati in five sets on the road just two days ago, the ECU volleyball team completed the home and road sweep of the Bearcats Friday with a resounding 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-17) American Athletic Conference victory inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
Team Records: ECU (22-11, 13-7 AAC) | Cincinnati (13-19, 11-9 AAC)
Torbett’s Take: “It has been a journey with this senior class and I couldn’t be more pleased that this match is how they will remember playing at home for the final time. We played with purpose and were really able to rattle Cincinnati, taking them out of their game plan. Looking back on all of the progress we have made this season, this program is in a great spot heading into the future.”
The Pirates end the regular season with a 22-11 overall record, the most victories in a single campaign since 1982, and a 13-7 mark in conference play – the most-ever league wins in a season in program history. ECU also locked down sole possession of fourth place in the AAC standings, its highest finish in conference play since the 2000 squad ended up tied for third place in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Pirates were picked to finish 11th in the 2017 American Conference preseason coaches poll.
Senior outside hitter Ashton Mares ended her career in Minges Coliseum in style, tallying a match-best 12 kills to go along with six digs, five blocks and three service aces. Senior middle hitter Natalie Montini chipped in with eight kills, three blocks and a .400 hitting percentage. Additionally, senior outside hitter Lael Ceriani notched seven kills and 15 digs. Jasmine Jones paced the Bearcats with 10 kills and a .391 hitting percentage.
Defensively, sophomore middle hitter Toya Osuegbu recorded a career-high 10 blocks (one solo) and sophomore libero Brandee Markwith collected a match-high 16 digs.
ECU dominated the stat sheet, out-hitting Cincinnati .205 to .074 while putting up more kills (39-32), digs (57-53) and total blocks (14.0-5.0).
Set One: The Pirates burst out of the gates by recording a pair of blocks on the first two rallies of the contest. ECU raced out to an 8-2 lead and did not let up. A kill by Mares later made it 16-10 before the Pirates’ sixth block of the opening set sealed the win.
Set Two: The Bearcats were able to secure a 9-5 edge early in the second frame, but ECU rallied with an 8-2 run capped by a block to give the Pirates a 13-12 lead. The teams traded the upper hand back and forth until ECU began to pull away late. With the scored tied at 18, the Purple and Gold scored seven of the final 10 points.
Set Three: The Pirates broke open a tight third stanza and led 11-7 after a block by Osuegbu and freshman right side Bri Wood. Cincinnati rallied to take a brief 13-12 advantage, but ECU would not be denied on Senior Day. With the score at 17-16 in favor of the Pirates, ECU won eight of the final nine points to compete the sweep.
News and Notes
· The Pirates ended the regular season with a 13-5 record at home while the Bearcats ended up at 8-7 in true road matches.
· With two wins over Cincinnati in the span of three days, ECU improved to 3-11 against the Bearcats in the all-time series.
· The Pirates’ 14.0 total blocks are the second most in a three-set match in American Athletic Conference history.
· Osuegbu’s 10 blocks are also the second most by an individual in a three-set AAC match.
· ECU ended 2017 with the most victories in a single season (22) since the 1982 campaign.