Nicole Willis notches a double-double in the loss
WASHINGTON, DC September 25, 2013 –Despite out-hitting Howard .278 to .247, the East Carolina volleyball team dropped a 3-1 [28-26, 22-25, 23-25, 22-25] decision Tuesday night in Washington, D.C. With the loss, the Pirates fall to 7-8 on the year, while the Bison improve to 11-5.
Senior opposite hitter Nicole Willis recorded her team-leading eighth double-double of the season with a match-high 20 kills and team-best 14 digs. She added three assists one block assist and hit .341 in the contest. Sophomore Kierra Lee-Dunson notched a career-best nine kills, with three block assists to hit a team-best .471. Senior outside hitter Whitney Campbell also added nine kills with as many digs to go along with two block assists, while junior setter Zarah Cecich dished out 37 assists, six digs, five kills, and three block assists. Senior libero Shelby Beasley collected 13 digs, while sophomore defensive specialist Erika Figueroa added seven.
The contest was close throughout as there were a total of 41 ties and 17 lead changes during the four sets. Howard held the edge in kills with 59 to ECU’s 53. The Pirates tallied 46 assists, 51 digs and 5.5 total blocks, while the Bison collected 54 assists, 53 digs and 6.0 total blocks in the evenly match contest.
ECU hit .366 in the first set and knocked down 16 kills while the Bison hit .222. The frame set the tone for the remainder of the match as the two teams battled back and forth throughout the game. Down 21-22, the Pirates called a timeout and managed to tie the game at 26-all before Willis slammed a kill and ECU forced Howard into an attack error to end the set as East Carolina claimed the first game, 28-26.
The Pirates took an early lead, 13-10, in the second set forcing Howard to call a timeout. After a few rallies, the Bison rattled off five consecutive points to take a 20-18 advantage over ECU. The Pirates would not give up and fought back taking a 22-21 lead on a kill by Cecich. However, the Bison closed the set on a 4-0 run to win the frame, 25-22.
Howard got off to a quick start in the third set as the hosts led 4-1 early in the frame. However, ECU battled back and evened the score at 6-6 as the Bison called for a break in action. After that initial tie, the game remained close as the two squads matched each other point for point until the set was tied at 23. The Bison broke the tie as Assata Conway recorded back-to-back kills to end the set as Howard claimed a 25-23 set win.
The fourth and final set followed the same pattern as East Carolina and Howard fought each other hard for the game. Despite the Pirates’ efforts, the Bison held a slight edge throughout the frame and eventually closed out the set and match on a pair of miscues by the Pirates.
East Carolina opens Conference USA action on Friday, September 27, at North Texas. First serve is set for 8 p.m. ET.