The East Carolina University volleyball team earned its first win in American Athletic Conference play on Friday after having a dominating performance that saw them defeat the University of Houston 3-1 in Minges Coliseum.
ECU (9-4, 1-1 AAC) knew it had a tough match coming into Friday as the Cougars (13-5, 0-3 AAC) entered the match fifth in the nation in total kills and total assists as well as third in total service aces.
The Pirates’ energy and chemistry were exuding even as early on as warm ups. This energy carried over into the first set and they showed that they owned the court from the very beginning. The ladies showed their dominance from start to finish in this set maintaining the lead for most of the time and ultimately winning 25-17.
After the loss, Houston buckled down and played hard in the second set. The score went back and forth until a couple of unlucky mistakes lead to a close 25-23 Cougar victory.
Even though ECU lost the second set, it did not lower the team's morale, it seemingly put it through the roof as the Pirates came out for the third set fired up. Early on the score stayed close like the previous two sets. The score was 10-9 ECU, but things kicked into high gear after that when it went on a 15-2 run, effortlessly winning the third set 25-11.
“The loss in the second set fueled us to kick it up a notch,” Sophomore outside hitter Sydney Kleinman said. “We all wanted to finish the game and show them not the mess with Pirate volleyball.”
The fourth set had a very similar start to the previous three. The game stayed close for most of the set as the score was 13-12 ECU. After that the Pirates ran with it to defeat Houston 25-18 in the fourth set, finishing it on a 12-6 run to win the game 3-1.
"We are really motivated to be successful in conference play this year," head coach Julie Torbett said. “We have had success against Houston since joining the conference and I think that confidence gave us an edge. We had some unfortunate hitting errors late in set two or else we would be talking about a sweep here.”
The Pirates held them to a 7.9 hitting percentage, giving up only 40 kills and five aces. ECU dominated on offense having a .238 hitting percentage, getting 53 kills in the midst of that. The Pirates had more digs than Houston (73-63) as well as total blocks (9.0-4.0).
Sophomore setter Shelby Martin has her second consecutive double-double when she collected 10 kills and 29 assists. Kleinman almost posted a double-double herself when she finished the night 9 kills and 11 digs. The Pirates were led by sophomore right side Bri Wood, as she posted her third double-double of the year when she racked up 13 kills, tying her career high with 19 digs.
“It felt good,” Wood said on tying her career high in digs. “For digging, I have to contact the first ball for my team so that way they can get a good set or a good kill.”
With ECU now on a two-game winning streak, they will look to carry the dominant performance they had against the Cougars into Sunday when they will take on Southern Methodist University in Minges Coliseum with match set to begin at 3:30 p.m.