GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina rallied from a two sets to none deficit Friday night to force a deciding frame, but Tulsa held for a 3-2 (25-20, 25-23, 24-26, 22-25, 15-10) American Athletic Conference victory inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
The Pirates (9-17, 5-12 AAC) held the Golden Hurricane (14-12, 9-8) to a .181 hitting percentage as well as racking up 13 total blocks, but ECU hit just .144 itself as the Golden Hurricane collected 91 digs to the Pirates’ 78.
Natalie Tyson led East Carolina with 20 kills and added 13 digs for a double-double while Bri Wood also tallied a double-double of 16 kills and 16 digs. Tia Shum anchored the back row to the tune of 18 digs and Amelia Davis racked up nine total blocks.
Kayley Cassaday led four Tulsa players in double-digit kills with 23 while Maggie Hembree checked in with 18. Roosa Rautio ran the offense and ended up with a double-double of 63 assists and 10 digs.
The Golden Hurricane began to create some separation midway through the first set, building a 17-11 advantage following a service ace by Callie Cook. A Tyson kill later sliced the Tulsa lead to 23-19, but the visitors scored two of the last three points to secure the frame.
ECU turned the tables in the second stanza, racing ahead 9-5 thanks to a Sophia Kruczko kill. The Pirates stayed ahead by a handful of points when consecutive aces off the serve of Bri Wood made it a 16-12 score. However, the Golden Hurricane rattled off four straight to knot things up. East Carolina was unable to hold on down the stretch, allowing Tulsa to net the final three points of the set to take a 2-0 lead at the intermission.
Trailing 20-17 and facing a sweep in the third, a kill by Aaliyah Griffin sparked a 6-3 run that forged a deadlock at 23-23. A kill by Davis capped off the comeback and extended the match to four.
It was another tight stanza in the fourth as the teams battled all the way to a tie at 20. A block by Davis and Priscilla Jones, as well as an attacking error off the swing of Cook, put the Pirates just three points away from forcing the decider and ECU held off the Golden Hurricane by three.
East Carolina utilized a quick timeout in the fifth set down 5-2 but cut the Tulsa lead to 7-6 after a Tyson kill. The Pirates could only come as close as 9-8 though before the Golden Hurricane collected six of the last seven points to seal the win.
East Carolina hosts Wichita State Sunday at Noon.