GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – The East Carolina volleyball team swept Temple for the first time in program history Sunday afternoon, winning an American Athletic Conference match 25-23, 26-24 and 25-23 inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
Coupled with a 3-0 victory over Connecticut Friday night, the Pirates swept two league opponents in the same weekend for the first time since joining the AAC.
Junior Bri Wood had an outstanding match, exploding for 18 kills, 14 digs and a .326 hitting percentage while also averaging six kills per set. Sophomore Natalie Tyson capped a nice weekend with nine kills and junior Shelby Martin filled up the stat sheet to the tune of 24 assists, seven digs, six kills and a .625 attacking percentage. Redshirt junior Brandee Markwith paced all players in the contest with 15 digs. Additionally, junior Sydney Kleinman registered six kills and 10 digs while redshirt sophomore Sydney Hall racked up a match-high four blocks (one solo).
Gem Grimshaw led the Owls with 13 kills and 13 digs, committing six attacking errors to finish with a .167 hitting percentage. Peyton Boyd also chipped in with 12 kills and eight digs.
Unlike in the teams’ first meeting this season in Philadelphia, East Carolina (18-8, 5-7 AAC) was the cleaner team on offense. The Pirates terminated at a much higher rate than Temple (11-12, 2-10 AAC), tallying 50 kills on 128 attempts for a respectable .266 attacking percentage. ECU did a much better job this time of keeping the Owls at bay, limiting the visitors to .186 efficiency on 41 kills. The Pirates also held the upper hand in total digs (61-59) and total blocks (6.0 to 5.0).
East Carolina got off to a quick start, taking a 5-2 lead in the opening set following a Temple service error. The Pirates fell behind 12-8 and used their first timeout of the day. Trailing 16-12 later in the frame, ECU scraped and clawed back to within 16-15 off of an attacking error by Owls. Temple looked to pull ahead, moving in front 19-15 thanks to a Grimshaw kill, but a service error sparked a 6-2 Pirate run that evened the score at 21. The Owls scored the next point to take a 22-21 edge. However, Wood came up big with three kills from there that allowed East Carolina to end the set on a 4-1 run and grab the opener by two.
In a second stanza that featured 15 tie scores, neither team would budge for much of the early portion. With the score deadlocked at 18, a kill by junior Kaiya Heyliger-Powell and a Temple attacking error put the Pirates up by two. The Owls put together a 4-0 run from there, taking a 22-20 advantage, but ECU answered with two consecutive scores to tie things at 22. The teams traded the next four points to forge a 24-24 stalemate before Wood put down a kill and Boyd sent an attack long to give the Purple and Gold the set and a 2-0 match lead at the intermission.
East Carolina started to create some separation midway through the third frame, grabbing a 16-13 edge off of a Tyson solo block. The Pirates led by as much as 18-15 before Temple ripped off a 3-0 run to tie the proceedings. Another solo block, this time by Osuegbu, late put ECU on the verge of the sweep with a 23-20 advantage. The Pirates were able to stave off the Owls in the end as a kill by Wood fittingly ended the match.
East Carolina takes its final road trip of the regular season next weekend, traveling to Florida for a pair of conference matches against UCF and USF.