ECU women's volleyball falls to Memphis in five sets

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – East Carolina produced a dominant first set Sunday afternoon against American Athletic Conference opponent Memphis, but ultimately fell 3-2 (25-17, 15-25, 17-25, 25-19, 13-15) inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.

The Tigers stretched their record to 14-8 overall and 3-7 in league play while the Pirates sunk to 15-8 and 3-7.

Junior Bri Wood paced ECU with 17 kills and 14 digs for her 11th double-double of the season while classmate Sydney Kleinman recorded 11 kills and 12 digs for her seventh double-double of the campaign. Junior Marissa Harmon tallied her first double-double in Pirate uniform to the tune of 21 assists and 10 digs. Redshirt junior Brandee Markwith led the back row with 19 digs and senior middle blocker Toya Osuegbu tied her career high with 10 total blocks. Hannah Flowers topped Memphis with 21 kills and a .472 attacking percentage while Meredith Wallace notched 17 kills.

In a tightly contested but inconsistently played match by both sides, the Tigers scored two more overall points which ultimately proved the difference. Memphis posted a 58-52 advantage in kills but East Carolina won the hitting percentage battle .216 to .185. The Pirates also enjoyed a massive advantage in total blocks at 14.0 to 6.0 and held the edge in total digs 72-68.

ECU came out on fire in the opener, racing out to an 11-3 lead following a block by Osuegbu and sophomore Natalie Tyson. The Tigers made a bit of a push, cutting their deficit to 21-15, but the Pirates netted four of the final six points to put the set away.

East Carolina never found its footing in the second, dropping behind 9-4 and 14-10 before using a timeout. Trailing 16-13, the Pirates allowed Memphis to score seven straight and the Tigers won the frame by double digits.

It was a similar story in the third set as Memphis led 10-2 after a Flowers kill. ECU was later able to pull within 18-14 on a Tiger attacking error but could come no closer.

The teams battled to a tie at 11 in the fourth before Memphis started to creep in front. The Pirates trailed 17-15 but a service error and a kill by junior Kaiya Heyliger-Powell knotted the score once more. A 3-0 East Carolina run created some separation from there and the Pirates allowed the Tigers just two more points to seal the set and send the match to the decider.

A kill by Wood saw ECU assume a 4-1 cushion in the fifth. However, the Pirates could not hold on as Memphis ripped off a 7-1 run to seize control 9-6. East Carolina pushed points for an 11-10 lead but was eventually done in by a 3-0 Tiger spurt from which the Pirates could not recover. A costly service error allowed Memphis match point at 14-12 and the sides traded the final two points to end the contest.

ECU plays its final non-conference match of the season Tuesday at 6 p.m. when it visits N.C. Central in Durham.