MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Behind just the fourth 100-dig performance in program history, East Carolina held off Memphis 3-2 (23-25, 25-13, 27-25, 19-25, 15-12) in an American Athletic Conference match Sunday afternoon at the Larry O. Finch Center.
The Pirates (10-18, 5-11 AAC) recorded double-digit wins in a season for the first time since 2019 while winning their third five-set decision of the campaign. The Tigers (17-12, 7-9 AAC) had won 12 of 17 home matches entering the day and had not lost to East Carolina in Memphis since 2017.
Paced by a career-high 34 digs out of Kenzie Beckham, ECU set a school record for digs in an AAC contest, registering 107 – the third most in program history. Despite the Tigers holding the upper hand in blocks (12-9) and kills (63-59), East Carolina out-hit its opposition .177 to .137 and forced Memphis into 32 attacking errors.
Angeles Alderete paced all players with 23 kills – her ninth 20-kill performance of the season – and added 18 digs to complete her 14th double-double. Izzy Marinelli followed with 18 kills of her own to go along with a pair of double-double efforts from the Pirates’ setters. Payton Evenstad notched 27 assists and 12 digs while Julianna Askew contributed 24 assists and 14 digs. Kianie Cummings chipped in with seven blocks for good measure.
Miaya Smith led five Memphis players in double figures with 15 kills, but committed eight errors to hit just .146.
The Tigers got off to a 6-1 start in the opening set after three consecutive kills by Alexis Lewis. Memphis maintained a four-point lead all the way to 23-19, but ECU notched three in a row to pull within one. The Tigers were able to hold on the end, scoring two of the final three points.
East Carolina rebounded with authority in the second stanza, racing out to a 16-7 edge following a Memphis attacking error. The Tigers did not come close the rest of the way as an Alyssa Finister kill sealed the set.
The Pirates grabbed the momentum in the third frame. Though facing a 24-22 deficit late in the proceedings, ECU utilized kills from Alderete and Carlia Northcross to knot the score. Tabytha Toelke briefly put Memphis back in front with a kill, but East Carolina snatched the set away thanks to a Tiger attacking error and a pair of Alderete kills.
Memphis was able to secure the fourth set by six and slipped ahead 8-6 in the decider. However, a 6-1 Pirate run from there proved more than the home side could handle. With ECU at match point leading 14-12, Toelke fired past the endline, but the line judge signaled the ball in. East Carolina head coach Adler Augustin challenged the ruling and the down official ruled in favor of the Purple and Gold. Tiger head coach Sean Burdette put in a challenge of his own, attempting to coax a touch or net call out of the play, but it proved futile as the Pirates snatched the road triumph.
Up Next: East Carolina hosts UCF Friday, Nov. 18, at 6 p.m. inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.