SMU downs ECU volleyball in four sets

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – SMU used a late rally in set one to propel itself to a 3-1 (25-23, 25-17, 23-25, 25-13) American Athletic Conference victory over East Carolina Friday night inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.

The Mustangs improve to 14-5 overall and 7-2 in league play while the Pirates drop to 15-7 and 3-6.

The ECU pin hitters both recorded double-doubles as juniors Bri Wood and Sydney Kleinman posted respective stat lines of 14 kills and 19 digs and 11 kills and 15 digs. Redshirt junior Brandee Markwith led the defensive efforts with 21 digs. Lily Heim posted a double-double of 50 assists and 12 digs to pace the visitors while Hannah Jacobs finished the match topping all players with 18 kills.

SMU racked up 60 kills on 161 attempts with 20 attacking errors for a .248 hitting percentage and limited East Carolina to .124 efficiency as the Pirates committed 28 errors in 177 attempts with 50 kills. The Mustangs also won the defensive battle in total digs (89-73) and total blocks (9.0 to 7.0).

ECU got off to a hot start in the opening set, ringing up a 6-0 advantage following a kill by senior Toya Osuegbu. The lead stood at 10-5 before SMU started to rally. A trio of consecutive kills later gave the Mustangs their first advantage at 15-14, but a block by redshirt sophomore Sydney Hall and junior Kaiya Heyliger-Powell allowed the Pirates to reach 20 points first with a two-point lead. The teams battled to a tie at 23 and SMU completed the comeback with a kill and an East Carolina attacking error to win the frame by the smallest of margins.

It was another auspicious beginning for the Pirates in the second stanza as they led 6-1 after a Kleinman kill. As they did in the first set, however, the Mustangs answered with a big run to knot the score at nine. A couple of big SMU serving runs did ECU in as the Mustangs won by eight to take a two-set cushion into the intermission.

SMU jumped out to a 6-2 edge in the third before the Pirates were able to tie the score at 11. A big block by Wood and Hall later forced the Mustangs to call for time with East Carolina in the lead at 18-15. SMU put together yet another rally to tie the score at 20 and the sides were deadlocked at 21, 22 and 23 before a kill by sophomore Natalie Tyson and a Jacobs attacking error allowed the Pirates to claim the set and extend the match.

East Carolina ran out of steam in the fourth as the Mustangs broke a 5-5 tie with a 5-0 run to seize control. The Pirates signaled for a timeout, but SMU was able to pull away. The Mustang lead grew to 18-8 before Jacobs eventually ended the night with a kill and gave her team the double-digit set win to seal the match.

ECU wraps up the weekend Sunday with a home match against Memphis. First serve is set for Noon.