GREENVILLE, N.C. – Freshman Bella Borgiotti tallied a career-high 26 assists in East Carolina’s 3-2 [25-17, 21-25, 25-20, 21-25, 10-15] loss to Florida Atlantic Monday night at Minges Coliseum. With the loss the Pirates drop to 11-15 on the season and 2-7 in Conference USA action, while the Owls improve to 10-13 overall and 2-7 in league play.
Borgiotti, along with Zarah Cecich, helped control a balanced offense that out-hit Florida Atlantic .201-.190. In addition to her 26 assists, Borgiotti added nine digs, three kills, and one block assist. Cecich registered 23 assists with a career-best 16 digs for her third double-double of the year. She also contributed six kills and three block assists while hitting a match-high .385. Senior opposite hitter Nicole Willis led the offensive attack with a team-best 15 kills to go along with four digs and three block assists. Middle hitter Virginia Fitch tied her season-high with eight kills while adding a match-high seven total blocks. Defensively, the Pirates were led by Shelby Beasley who notched a match-high 20 digs. Whitney Campbell also added double-figure digs with 11, while posting six kills and one block assist.
In addition to out-hitting the Owls, the Pirates held the defensive edge in digs (73-70) and total team blocks (12.0-8.0). However, Florida Atlantic knocked down 70 kills to ECU’s 55. The Owls also posted 63 assists, while the Pirates collected 52.
“This was a need-to-win match and we didn’t do it,” Head coach Julie Torbett said. “But there are still six matches left, so now we’ve got to pull out a win over somebody who is ahead of us [in the standings] and that can be done. We’re pretty determined to try to find a way [into the Conference USA Tournament].”
East Carolina came out swinging in the first set as the Pirates hit an impressive .469 in the frame as they knocked down 16 kills with only one attack error. The Pirates broke an early 1-1 tie with a 5-0 run and never looked back as they went on to take an 11-4 advantage on a kill off the hands of Cecich to force an FAU timeout. The break in action did not faze the Pirates as they continued to build on their lead and went up by nine points (21-12) on a kill from Kierra Lee-Dunson. ECU used a balanced offense and a solid defense that held the Owls to just .179 hitting to go on to win 25-17.
The Owls came back in the second set and hit .209 with 16 kills, while the Pirates were limited to a .143 attack percentage. With the exception of a 2-2 tie, Florida Atlantic led throughout the frame. Despite ECU’s efforts, the Owls went on to even the match at two games apiece with a 25-21 set win.
The third set was more of a battle than the first two as the teams fought each other through three ties and a pair of lead changes. However, East Carolina’s defense held Florida Atlantic to just .053 hitting as the Pirates forced the Owls into nine attack errors in the frame. Following a 16-16 tie, the Pirates took the lead on back-to-back FAU attack errors. The Pirates used a 4-1 run to push the game to set point (24-17), but the Owls refused to go quietly as they rattled off three consecutive points. With ECU up 24-20, the Pirates collected the victory on a Florida Atlantic service error.
FAU took an early lead in the fourth set, but the Pirates chipped away and eventually tied the game at 13-all. Over the next few points, the two teams rallied through six ties until the Owls broke the 20-20 deadlock on a kill from Kristi Tekavec. FAU went on to close out the set on a 5-1 run (25-21) and force a fifth and deciding set.
ECU trailed at the start of the fifth set, but remained close to Florida Atlantic and eventually evened the score at 5-5 on an FAU miscue. The Pirates managed to take a two-point advantage (8-6) on back-to-back kills from Willis and Fitch, but the Owls refused to quit. With ECU up 9-7, the Owls used a 7-0 run to take control of the frame and win the set and match, 15-10.
Florida Atlantic’s Tekavec led both teams with a match-high 19 kills, while Alessia Pizzoccheri added 13 kills and 14 digs for a double-double. Alexandria Harvard also notched a double-double with 41 assists and 10 digs, while Jelena Jovanovic posted 18 assists, and Nathalie Rosado led the FAU defense with 16 digs.
The Pirates head to Hattiesburg, Miss., for a Friday night match-up at Southern Miss on Nov. 1, at 8 p.m. ET. Live stats will be available for the contest on ECUPirates.com.