The Pirates notch a number of career-bests in the setback
GREENVILLE, NC October 4, 2013 – Sophomore Erika Figueroa recorded a career-high 20 digs in her first start of the season and freshman Ashley McRae posted a career-best seven kills to go along with a career-high eight total blocks in the Pirates’ 3-1 [22-25, 25-23, 21-25, 16-25] loss to UAB Friday night. East Carolina hit .201 in its sixth-straight loss, while the Blazers registered a .290 attack percentage.
McRae hit .333 in the contest while helping East Carolina (7-11, 0-2 C-USA) collect 13.0 total team blocks with eight block assists of her own. Nicole Willis tallied her team-leading eighth double-double of the season with a team-high 13 kills and 14 digs while adding a pair of service aces and a block assist. Zarah Cecich paced the Pirate offense with 40 assists, a career-best nine digs, a career-high four total blocks and three kills while hitting .500. Torre Blake contributed 11 kills, five digs, a career-best five total blocks, two aces, and one assist in the loss.
“I was very encouraged that we came out against a really good UAB team and gave them a great battle,” Head coach Julie Torbett said. “We have a little problem with finishing right now, so that’s what we need to work on. We were definitely in the match from the start all the way through about three-quarters into the fourth set. We’re just going to have to work on that. We’re still young in the winning stages.”
After a few early rallies, Willis knocked down back-to-back kills followed by a kill off the hands of McRae to give the Pirates a lead (8-6) that they would hold for most of the first set. ECU led by as many as four points (18-14), but a kill by UAB’s (13-6, 2-1 C-USA) Bethanie Thomas sparked a 5-0 run by the Blazers that turned the Pirates’ four-point advantage into a one-point deficit (18-19). East Carolina fought back, but UAB closed out the frame on another 5-0 run which propelled the Blazers to a 25-22 set victory.
The Blazers took an early 5-2 lead in the second set, but the Pirates were quick to turn things around and take an 11-9 lead on a Blake kill. UAB tied the score at 11-all, but that was just the start of a match-high 11 ties and seven lead changes in the frame. The two teams matched each other point for point until the score was knotted at 22.East Carolina took a two-point advantage (24-22) on a Willis kill followed by a UAB miscue which forced the Blazers to call a timeout. Following the break in action, the Pirates closed out the set on a kill from Kierra Lee-Dunson as they won 25-23.
The third set was close throughout as well. East Carolina and UAB fought each other hard while battling through five ties and three lead changes. The two squads played an evenly match game and the Pirates tied the score for the last time on back-to-back kills by Campbell and Willis to move the score to 20-all. The Blazers recorded three-consecutive points to take a 23-20 lead. Despite the Pirates’ efforts, UAB claimed the third set, 25-21.
ECU and UAB continued their back-and-forth affair in the fourth set as the squads battled through eight ties in the first 16 points as the score was locked at 8-apiece. The Blazers broke the 8-8 tie with a 4-0 run forcing an East Carolina timeout. The break allowed the Pirates to come back with a kill from McRae, but the Blazers fought back with a five consecutive points to extend their lead to eight (17-9). From there, UAB took control of the set and handed the Pirates a 25-16 loss in the fourth and final set.
UAB had four players record double-digit kills in Sara Rishell (18), Kiriana Hirini (17), Thomas (12), and Ally Slaughter (10). Setter Becca Howard controlled the Blazers’ offense with a match-high 61 assists to go along with 15 digs for a double-double. Libero Rachel Fairbanks led UAB with 28 digs in the Blazers’ win.
East Carolina returns to the court Saturday to host Savannah State in a non-conference match on October 5, at 3 p.m. Live stats and video will be available on ECUPirates.com.