Sophmore defense specialist Sariah Schulteis

Sophmore defense specialist Sariah Schulteis prepares to serve the ball against Memphis.

East Carolina University volleyball (9-18, 5-13 Athletic American Conference) lost to Wichita State (18-9, 12-16 American Athletic Conference 18-9, 12-16) in its last home game of the season Nov. 21 in Minges Coliseum, 3-1. 

In the first set, senior outside hitter Natalie Tyson served for the Pirates. ECU got the first points on the board when Wichita State redshirt sophomore outside hitter Brylee Kelly made an attack error. After three more points from the Purple and Gold, the Wichita State Shockers put their first points on the board when Kelly got a kill, which took the score to 4-1, Pirates. 

As the first set continued on, the game stayed close between the two teams. Senior right side Bri Wood, sophomore outside hitter Sania Mccoy and freshman right side Sophia Kruczko all scored for ECU. Freshman middle blocker Natalie Foster, who also plays as right side, and Kelly scored for the Shockers. The first set ended with a Pirate win, 31-29. 

In the second set, freshman libero Annalie Heliste, who also plays as defensive specialist, served for Wichita State. The Pirates were able to put the points on the board first when Wood made a kill. Tyson also scored for the Purple and Gold, which took the score to 2-0, ECU. 

“Definitely the relationships I've made with everyone, just having that family-feel, just being a part of the team, it's permanent friends,” Wood said. 

The Shockers were able to get on the board when freshman outside hitter Morgan Weber made a kill. The second set continued to stay close as both teams went back and forth being in the lead. After being tied at 7-7,12-12 and 19-19, Kelly was able to make a kill, which pushed the Shockers into the lead.

As both teams fought to get the win, the Pirates called a timeout when the score was 22-20, Shockers. Kelly got an ace, which allowed Wichita to be one point away from the win. After an attack error from both sophomore opposite Sophia Rohling and Weber, the Pirates took the score up to 24-20. The second set ended when Rohling made a kill off of freshman defensive specialist Tia Shum’s, who also plays as libero, serve. The final score was 25-22, Shockers. 

As the third set started, the Pirates looked to tie the overall score in order to try to win the potential fourth or fifth sets. To start off, Tyson served for the Pirates, which allowed Kelly to make a kill for the Shockers. In consistency with the previous two sets, the score remained close between ECU and Wichita State. 

After a total of 11 ties throughout the third set, the Shockers began to break away when Foster and Kelly both made kills. Wood and Evenstad also made kills for the Pirates but the third set ended when Kelly made another kill for Wichita State, which took the final score to 35-33, Shockers ahead. 

To start the fourth set Weber served for the Shockers and ECU was able to be the first to score after freshman middle back Aaliyah Griffin and Mccoy made a block assist. The Purple and Gold continued to take the lead as Kruczko got a kill, Evenstad got an ace and sophomore right side Jennings Hall also got an ace, which took the score to 15-5, ECU. 

Wichita began to catch up after freshman outside hitter Kalin Newsome and Rohling both got two kills. Sophomore libero Lily Liekweg, who also plays as defensive specialist, also got an ace for Wichita. The fourth set ended with a score of 25-21, Wichita. Overall, the Shockers took the win for the entire match, 3-1. 

The game ended with a Senior Day appreciation ceremony. Senior middle blocker Gabby Ferguson, senior setter Janiece Jefferies, Wood and Tyson were all celebrated for their commitment to the team and achievements while being student athletes. 

“Some of my best memories are when we beat the Atlantic Coast Conference teams, UNC and NC State. I thought those were really competitive, fun games, like showing we know we can win against the top teams. Just making memories with our team on travel trips, eating together, always hanging out and always being with each other,” Tyson said. 

The ECU volleyball team will play again on the road against the Cincinnati Bearcats (17-9, 12-6 American Athletic Conference) Nov. 24 at 1 p.m. The game can be viewed on ESPN+.

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