S’Mara Riley

Redshirt junior S’Mara Riley rises up to spike the ball over the net.

The East Carolina University volleyball team (1-2, 0-2 AAC) will face the University of South Florida Bulls (2-2, 0-0 AAC) on Feb. 18 and 19 at Minges Coliseum in Greenville, North Carolina.

The Pirates are 1-2 in 2021 so far, and they come off back-to-back losses against the University of Cincinnati Bearcats (4-2, 2-0 AAC) on Feb. 11 and 12. Head coach Alder Augustin said he liked the team’s fight during the series.

“Our team is competing and I like what they’re doing on the floor,” Augstin said. We kept fighting but we needed to be more crisp. Overall, I think they did a really good job implementing the game plan, we just need to be able to close it out.”

ECU finished its 2019 season 19-11 overall, 6-10 AAC. The Pirates swept the season series against USF and they last played the Bulls on Nov. 10, 2019, at the USF Corral in Tampa, Florida. The Pirates came out on top with a 3-1 victory. ECU won the first set 25-20, then the second 25-23. ECU lost the third set 25-13, but were able to close out the match by winning the fourth 25-19.

According to ECUPirates.com, the Pirates outperformed the Bulls in points (62-35), kills (52-29), aces (7-3), assists (43-29), and digs (46-31) on Nov. 10, 2019. USF led with overall errors and gathered 18 while ECU totaled 12. ECU had more blocks than USF with an overall of 5-1.

“South Florida has a new coaching staff and they’re going to have a different style than they’ve had over the years,” Augistin said. “Their style is different from Cincinnati. It creates a different defensive matchup for us.

For ECU, senior right side Bri Wood led in kills with 17 and was second in the team for digs with 18. For USF, sophomore setter Lauren LaBeck led the team in assists with 45. USF sophomore outside hitter Lindsey Pliapol led her team in kills with 19, according to gousfbulls.com.

Cincinnati swept the series against the Pirates on Feb. 11 and 12 at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio. According to ECUPirates.com, in the first game of the series on Feb. 11, the Pirates fell to the Bearcats, 3-1. Cincinnati had the advantage over ECU in kills (66), aces (10), assists (63), and digs (81). ECU had 11 blocks to Cincinnati’s six.

According to ECUPirates.com, ECU’s senior setter Alisi Motu’apuaka led the team in assists with 32. Senior outside hitter Sydney Kleinman led ECU in aces with two out of the team’s four. For Cincinnati, junior outside hitter Maria Mallon led the team in kills with 21 and also led the team in digs with 21. Senior setter Ashley Kozer led Cincinnati in assists with 57, according to gobearcats.com.

Cincinnati completed the series sweep on Feb. 12 by shutting out ECU 3-0. The Bearcats had the upper hand in kills with 45 and aces with five. However, the Pirates had 62 digs while the Bearcats had 58. Both teams had five blocks and 39 assists, according to ECUPirates.com.

According to ECUPirates.com, Wood led ECU in digs with 13. Also for ECU, Allen led the team in kills with 18. For the Bearcats, freshman outside hitter Sarah Norcom led Cincinnati in aces with two according to gobearcats.com. Cincinnati’s Kozer led the team in assists with 35.

“I like our potential for sure,” Augustin said. “We’re in all the matches, we lost six of the seven sets we played against Cincinnati by two points. I like the fight that we have for sure. I also like how our defense is really scrappy right now.”

The game on Feb. 18 will start at 6 p.m. and will stream on ESPN+. The match on Feb. 19 will start at 2 p.m. and will stream on ECUPirates.com.

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