The East Carolina volleyball team raced to a 2-0 lead Tuesday night but had to settle for a 3-1 victory over UNC Greensboro inside Minges Coliseum. The Pirates evened their record at 2-2 while the Spartans suffered their first loss of the season and now stand at 4-1. Sophomore Stephanie Turner served up five aces, a career-high and the first time it has happened since Pam Ferris did the same against DePaul in 2004.
With the score tied at six in the first game, ECU used a 10-4 to establish a 16-10 lead. UNCG would cut the advantage to 16-13 but ECU out-scored them 14-11 to take a 30-24 win and 1-0 lead in the match. Senior Kelley Wernert led the offense with six kills in the game while junior Trish Monroe recorded four digs on defense. The Pirates out-hit UNCG .281 to .167 for the frame.
ECU established itself early in the second game as it took an 8-4 advantage. The Spartans fought back to tie the score at 13 and would also tie it at 15 before the Pirates went on an 8-0 run off of Wernert's serving to take the lead at 23-15. UNCG would not threaten again in the game as ECU cruised to a 30-20 win and 2-0 match lead. Sophomore Melissa Zentner and Wernert both notched four kills in the game. In addition, Monroe and Wernert dug four balls each. The Pirates once again out-hit the Spartans .263 to .087.
If the Spartans were ready to get on the bus back to Greensboro, they did not show it coming out of the locker room. They exploded to a 10-4 lead and never looked trailed, taking leads of 19-9 and 27-13 on their way to a 30-18 victory, cutting the Pirates advantage to 2-1 in the match. Despite the setback, Wernert continued her offensive prowess. She killed seven balls while Hannah Fenker contributed defensively, recording six digs. UNCG turned the tables on ECU in hitting in the third game, recording a .300 percentage as compared to the Pirates' .042.
ECU finally returned to form in game four as it took a 14-9 lead. The Spartans matched the Pirates point-for-point until, with the score 21-16, ECU scored three-straight points to up its advantage to seven. UNCG would cut the lead to 29-24, but Zentner shut the door with her 10th kill of the match to give the Pirates the 30-24 victory and the match. Wernert led ECU again offensively, notching six kills in the game while Turner upped her defense, recording four digs.
Despite falling in four games, the Spartans bested the Pirates both in hitting percentage (.227 to .220) and defense (54-52). However, ECU aced UNCG 11 times and beat them at the net, out-blocking the Spartans 6-4. Wernert totaled 23 kills on the night, marking the 31st time in her last 35 matches that she has recorded double-digit kills.
The Pirates will take to the road this weekend as they the trip to Williamsburg, Va. to compete in the Tribe Classic, hosted by William and Mary. ECU will take on the Tribe at 7:30 on Friday while facing off against Southern Illinois and Kent State at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday.