DURHAM, N.C. (ECU) - East Carolina closed out non-conference play with a 3-1 (25-16, 27-25, 23-25, 25-20) victory over N.C. Central Tuesday evening inside McDougald-McLendon Arena.
The Pirates, who have secured a winning overall record for the second time in three seasons, improve to 16-8. The Eagles drop to 6-21.
Junior Sydney Kleinman exploded for 22 kills on .386 efficiency while classmate Bri Wood posted her fifth consecutive double-double with 19 kills and 18 digs. Sophomore Natalie Tyson added 10 kills with no errors for a .370 attacking percentage.
Defensively, redshirt sophomore Sydney Hall racked up a match-best six total blocks. Redshirt junior Brandee Markwith collected 13 digs and sophomore Alden Willis chipped in with 10. Junior Shelby Martin finished just shy of a double-double, distributing 26 assists to go along with nine digs. Christine Alcox paced the home side with 16 kills and a .217 hitting percentage.
East Carolina hit .275 for the match on the strength of 66 kills and limited NCCU to .178 efficiency. The Eagles held a slight edge in total digs (73-71) but the Pirates out-blocked Central 9.0 to 5.5.
ECU pulled ahead 12-8 in the opening frame after an attacking error. The Pirate lead grew all the way to 21-11 before East Carolina settled for the nine-point margin of victory.
The second set saw the Pirates fall behind 17-10, but they dug deep and kept chipping away. Consecutive kills by freshman Jaylibeth Garcia and Kleinman sliced the Eagle advantage to 22-21, forcing NCCU to call for time. ECU had to fight off one set point before eventually getting two-straight kills from Wood to complete the comeback and sneak into the intermission with a two-set cushion.
The Pirates, looking to seal the sweep led by two late in the third stanza at 17-15, but the Eagles were able to move in front 23-22 before Kleinman tied the score with a kill. East Carolina was unable to hold off N.C. Central in the end as the Eagles clinched the set with a kill and a Pirate attacking error.
ECU trailed 14-9 in the fourth but dug in and pushed points. Consecutive attacking errors eventually gave the Pirates a 17-16 edge and they would not trail again. A 6-0 East Carolina run broke a 17-17 deadlock and spelled the end for Central.
The Pirates are back at home this weekend for a pair of American Athletic Conference matches against Connecticut and Temple.
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