GREENVILLE, N.C. – American Athletic Conference leader SMU took one step closer to claiming the American Athletic Conference regular season title, downing East Carolina 3-0 (25-20, 26-24, 25-22) Friday night inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
Despite a program single-match record 1,468 fans in attendance, the Pirates (18-7, 9-5 AAC) could not quite match the Mustangs’ (19-6, 13-1 AAC) offensive firepower and dropped their third-straight decision to fall back into a first-place tie with South Florida in the East Division. The Bulls took care of a hapless Temple side in Philadelphia, winning twice at McGonigle Hall Thursday and Friday to set up next week’s two-match showdown with ECU in Tampa.
SMU held the statistical advantage in most categories, including kills (49-40), hitting percentage (.256 to .217), digs (57-53) and service aces (3-1) while the teams finished even in total blocks at eight apiece.
Sophomore outside hitter Angeles Alderete turned in a double-double of 14 kills and 14 digs while adding two blocks. Junior libero Lara Uyar paced the back row with 15 digs. The Mustangs’ Jamison Wheeler led three SMU players in double figures in the kill column with 15 to go along with a match-best 19-dig performance by Sinalauli’i Uluave.
Set One: The Pirates got off to a great start, scoring the first six points of the match. However, a 10-4 run by the visitors quickly knotted the score at 10. ECU held a 15-13 lead at the media timeout thanks to an Alderete kill but SMU scored nine of the next 12 points to build an insurmountable 22-18 advantage. A solo block by Emma Clothier later sealed the set for the Mustangs.
Set Two: The sides fought to a 14-14 deadlock in the second stanza before a Naya Shime attacking error and Brittany Wood kill afforded the Purple and Gold a two-point edge. The set was extremely close down the stretch but two kills by Wood turned a 23-22 deficit into a 24-23 lead to put the Pirates at set point. Following a SMU timeout, an East Carolina service error tied the score, and the Mustangs grabbed the next two rallies to win the frame in extra points.
Set Three: ECU did not find its footing in the third until late as SMU raced out to a 6-2 lead and kept the Pirates at an arm’s length for a while. The Pirates fought back to draw within one a couple of times late in the proceedings, but the Mustangs never relinquished the upper hand on the way to completing the sweep.
Up Next: East Carolina visits South Florida Nov. 9-10 for a pair of matches at The Corral.