ECU sweeps Gardner-Webb in home opener, falls in three to UTRGV

ECU Pirates

(ECU Sports Information photo)

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GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina made short work of Gardner-Webb to open the Pirate Invitational Friday afternoon, sweeping the Runnin’ Bulldogs 25-15, 25-16, 25-22 inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.

ECU improved to 3-4 with its third-straight victory while GWU fell to 3-5 with its fourth loss in its last five contests.

UTRGV won the first match of the morning in three sets over Appalachian State. The Pirates and Vaqueros meet in Friday’s final contest at 7:30 p.m.

Senior right side Bri Wood and senior outside hitter Natalie Tyson tallied 11 kills apiece to lead East Carolina while freshman middle blocker Amelia Davis notched a career-best nine kills with one error on 16 attempts for a .500 hitting percentage. Freshman libero Tia Shum paced the back row with a match-best 13 digs. Davis added five total blocks (one solo). Additionally, senior setter Janiece Jefferies ran the offense to the tune of 32 assists. Kylee Garrison collected a match-high 14 kills for the visitors and committed eight errors for a .207 hitting mark.

ECU produced its best team hitting percentage of the season at .363, connecting for 42 kills on 91 attempts with nine errors. The Pirates limited the Runnin’ Bulldogs to .123 efficiency while also holding the upper hand in digs (36-32) and total blocks (5.0-2.0).

It was all East Carolina early in the first set as a block by Davis and freshman right side Sophia Kruczko made the score 8-1. Gardner-Webb drew within 9-5 following a Delaney McCullough kill, but the Pirates were able to hold the Runnin’ Bulldogs at an arm’s length for the remainder of the frame. A bad set by Madison Deslatte pushed ECU ahead 21-12 before the Pirates scored four of the final seven points.

East Carolina rolled to an 11-3 advantage in the second and utilized a Gardner-Webb attacking error to assume a 15-5 lead at the media timeout. The Runnin’ Bulldogs pulled no closer than seven the rest of the way as a kill by Davis terminated the set and sent the Pirates to intermission with a 2-0 match lead.

The teams battled back and forth early in the third stanza and settled for a tie at eight points. Lauryn Rocassin gave the visitors a 13-10 edge with a kill but a stellar serving run by freshman defensive specialist Alex Singleton resulted in eight-straight points for ECU as the Purple and Gold vaulted ahead by an 18-13 margin. Deslatte kept Gardner-Webb close late in the set with a kill that made the score 23-21. However, Wood responded and afforded the Pirates match point with a kill and Kylee Garrison sent the ball out of bounds a couple of rallies later to seal the East Carolina sweep.

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Pirates fall in three sets to UTRGV 

GREENVILLE, N.C. – An efficient offensive performance lifted UTRGV past East Carolina 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-17) Friday night inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.

The Vaqueros, who swept Appalachian State in the first match of the Pirate Invitational, improve to 7-4 overall while ECU dips to 3-5.

Paced by a contest-high 22 kills out of Sarah Cruz, UTRGV hit .293 for the match while also out-digging East Carolina 66-43. The Pirates finished with the upper hand in total blocks (9.0-3.0).

Senior right side Bri Wood led the ECU offense with 13 kills and a .244 hitting percentage while freshman libero Tia Shum collected 15 digs and freshman middle blocker Amelia Davis compiled five blocks.

The Pirates utilized an early timeout in the first set trailing 8-4 after a Veronika Jandova kill. Consecutive kills by Wood later in the frame sliced the Vaquero advantage to 17-15, but East Carolina could come no closer the rest of the way.

Another early deficit forced ECU to call for time in the second as Jandova converted a swing to give her side a 7-4 lead. The Pirates fell behind by as much as eight before a block by senior outside hitter Natalie Tyson and freshman middle blocker Aaliyah Griffin sliced the deficit to 22-19. UTRGV claimed three of the final four points to win the stanza and enjoy a two sets to none lead at the intermission.

The third was tight most of the way until the Vaqueros broke a 14-14 deadlock with a 4-0 run to seize control. ECU called for time trailing 18-14 but was not able to complete the comeback.

Up Next: East Carolina takes on Appalachian State in the finale of the Pirate Invitational Saturday at 3 p.m.

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