PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (ECU) – For the second time in three matches, sophomore outside hitter Sydney Kleinman set a career high offensively as her 19-kill performance lifted ECU to a 3-1 (20-25, 25-18, 25-14, 25-22) American Athletic Conference victory Sunday afternoon at Temple.
“I was very happy with our offensive performance today,” head coach Julie Torbett said. “We had multiple weapons going and Sydney Kleinman had a heck of a day on her birthday.”
Kleinman played a great all-around match as she added 10 digs for her first double-double of the season and committed just two attacking errors in 33 attempts to end up with a .515 hitting percentage. Junior middle blocker Toya Osuegbu also reached double digits in the kill column with 12 and hit a solid .350 on 20 attempts.
On the defensive end, junior libero Maggie Hallow collected a career-best 22 digs and was one of four players in double figures in the category. Sophomore setter Shelby Martin continued to flirt with a triple double, notching 47 assists, 10 digs and eight kills as well as a .385 hitting percentage. At the net, freshman middle blocker S’mara Riley capped an impressive weekend with nine kills, four blocks and a .444 hitting mark.
“It’s good to see the young players starting to come on,” Torbett stated. “They were able to acquire some good experience in the non-conference schedule. Natalie Tyson had nine kills and zero errors and did a really nice job all around. Alden Willis is a key player for us and S’mara had another great performance.”
Iva Deak paced the Owls (4-13, 1-4 AAC) with 10 kills and a .450 hitting percentage while Mia Heirakuji pulled up a team-best 15 digs.
The Pirates (12-4, 4-1 AAC) were extremely efficient on the offensive end, tallying 63 kills with only 16 errors for a .343 hitting percentage. ECU also held the upper hand in digs (59-53) and total blocks (5.0-2.0).
After the teams started the match off with three consecutive serving errors, Temple took advantage of some attacking miscues by ECU and pulled out to a 10-3 lead, prompting a Pirate timeout. ECU was able to slice the deficit to 19-15 later in the frame off a kill by freshman middle blocker S’mara Riley, but the Owls held firm and eventually took the opener by five.
The Pirates got off to a better start in the second stanza, scoring the first two points. ECU kept that two-point advantage for much of the early part of the set until a Hallow ace gave the Purple and Gold some breathing room at 13-8. The Pirates stretched the lead to 18-12 when sophomore right side Bri Wood and Riley teamed up for a block and that would prove enough as ECU rolled to the seven-point margin of victory to tie the match.
It was another tight one early on in the third as a kill by Gem Grinshaw saw the Pirates in the lead 9-7. ECU began to assert itself from there, scoring three straight to build a five-point cushion. Temple was unable to recover and the Pirates limited the home side to just 14 in taking a two sets to one lead.
A kill from Osuegbu afforded ECU an 8-4 edge to begin the fourth and the Pirates kept the advantage for much of the early and middle portions of the set before the Owls made one last push. Temple eventually tied the score at 19 following an ECU attacking error, but the Pirates held tough. With ECU ahead 23-21, Riley found the open floor on a tip and put the Pirates at match point. Fittingly, Kleinman ended the match one rally later with a kill.
ECU plays its third-straight road match Friday, Oct. 12 when it travels to Wichita State to face the defending league champion Shockers at Koch Arena.