Paced by career-highs of 31 kills, 76 attempts and four aces from senior Kelley Wernert, the East Carolina volleyball team defeated UNCW 3-1 on Tuesday evening inside Hanover Hall. The Pirates even their record at 6-6 while the Seahawks drop to 3-8 on the season. Wernert now owns the record for most kills in a single game in program history as she accounted for more than half of ECU’s 60 kills on the evening. She also notched her fourth-straight double-double as the Hoffman Estates, Ill. native added 10 digs.
The Pirates jumped ahead 6-2 to begin game one then forced UNCW to take a timeout with the score in their favor 20-16. Another Seahawk timeout saw ECU with a 24-19 advantage before the Pirates cruised to a 30-26 win and 1-0 lead in the match. Wernert began her career night, exploding for 10 kills in the frame. Junior Trish Monroe paced the defense with eight digs and C-USA setter-of-the-week, freshman Katie Koop, added 14 assists. ECU recorded 19 kills to UNCW’s 16 and out-hit the Seahawks .333 to .159 while also winning the defensive battle 17-16.
Looking to take a 2-0 lead into the locker room, the Pirates never let UNCW into the frame. ECU took leads of 10-3, 18-8 and 26-14 to record a 30-17 win. Both squads fell off a bit offensively as the Pirates hit only .138 as compared to the Seahawks’ -.054. ECU took the defensive struggle for the second-consecutive game, turning in 11 digs to seven for UNCW. Wernert again topped the offense with five kills while Monroe provided a modest four digs. Koop found her teammates for kills 10 times in the frame.
The Pirates fell behind 13-7 in game three and were forced to take a timeout with the Seahawks leading 20-13. They would cut the deficit to 22-17 before UNCW stretched its advantage to 26-19. A late rally would bring ECU to within 27-23 but the Seahawks took the final three points to take the frame 30-23 and stay alive in the contest. UNCW finally found its offense and defense, out-hitting the Pirates .333 to .091.and out-digging ECU 18-13. Wernert duplicated her five-kill effort from game two and Monroe did the same, recording four digs. Additionally Koop handed out seven assists for the game.
Having missed an opportunity to close out the match in game three, the Pirates made sure to finish in game four, racing to a 14-6 lead. The advantage would grow to 20-12, inducing a timeout from the Seahawks. UNCW would only get as close as 26-20 until ECU took the final four out of five points to close out the frame 30-21 and the match. Finishing out her career contest was Wernert with 11 kills while sophomore Hannah Fenker stepped up the defense, notching six digs. Koop completed her match strong, dishing out 13 helpers for her teammates. The Pirates had their best offensive frame, hitting a blistering .405 with 17 kills as compared to the Seahawks’ 16 kills and .225 percentage. The squads finished the final game tied in defense, accumulating 16 kills each.
In addition to Wernert’s kills, sophomore Melissa Zentner put down seven balls while fellow sophomore Stephanie Turner slapped six. Koop recorded 44 assists while adding her first-career solo block and six digs. Monroe contributed 17 digs and has recorded double-digit digs in 11 of 12 contests this season. The match also marks the seventh-consecutive contest in which ECU has matched or out-dug its opponent.
The Pirates will compete in their final regular-season tournament when they head to the nation’s capital to begin play at the George Washington Invitational. ECU will open against the host Colonials on Friday at 7 p.m. before squaring off against Howard and Hartford at 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday.