STATESBORO, Ga. – East Carolina began the 2023 campaign with a solid victory over UNC Greensboro, blanking the Spartans 3-0 (25-21, 25-12, 25-15) in the first match of the Bash in the Boro tournament at Hanner Fieldhouse on the campus of Georgia Southern University.
East Carolina lost for the first time in 2023 later on Friday, dropping a 3-0 (16-25, 24-26, 23-25) decision to Georgia Southern inside Hanner Fieldhouse.
ECU beats UNC Greensboro
The Pirates (1-0) ran a crisp offense, hitting .290 with 41 kills against 12 errors. Conversely, the Spartans (0-1) fired at just an .061 clip, committing 19 attacking errors in 98 attempts. ECU also won the statistical battle in digs (48-38), service aces (8-4) and total blocks (8.0-4.0).
Preseason All-American Athletic Conference Team member Angeles Alderete picked up right where she left off in her rookie season as the reigning AAC Freshman of the Year tallied 10 kills, five digs and a .219 hitting percentage. Newcomer Francesca McBride, a senior right side, showed well in her first appearance for the Pirates, collecting eight kills and hitting .294 while adding five digs to her ledger. Sophomore middle blocker Carlia Northcross also racked up five blocks and fired at .571 efficiency with five kills. In the back row, junior libero Tia Shum notched 20 digs in her first match action since 2021. Senior setter Julianna Askew helped the East Carolina offense operate smoothly with 17 assists and eight digs.
Jocelyn Carter paced UNCG with nine kills and Mallory Mears dished out 19 assists.
Three-straight kills by Northcross, McBride and Brittany Wood saw East Carolina race out to a 3-0 lead in the opening frame, but UNCG found its footing and rattled off nine of the next 12 points to grab a three-point edge. The Pirates started putting the pressure on the Spartans at the service line as Alyssa Finister notched consecutive aces as part of an 8-2 ECU run that forced a Greensboro timeout with the Pirates ahead 14-11. East Carolina’s advantage grew to as much as 19-14 after a Spartan attacking error as the Pirates were able to keep UNCG at an arm’s length the rest of the set to take an early 1-0 lead in the match.
After an early back-and-forth tussle in set two, ECU forced an early Spartan timeout when an Askew ace put the Pirates in front by a 10-6 margin. UNCG never threatened as East Carolina cruised to the 13-point victory and a 2-0 edge in the contest.
The Spartans scored the first two points of the third stanza, but the Pirates quickly established the upper hand with a 5-0 run capped by a UNCG attacking error. ECU continued to pull away, utilizing an ace by Alderete to pull ahead 14-7. The Pirates did not relent, closing out the match via Izzy Marinelli’s sixth kill of the day.
- East Carolina defeated UNC Greensboro for the fifth time in the teams’ last seven meetings.
- The Pirates won their second-straight season opener and have lost just one campaign lidlifter since 2014.
- ECU hit over .200 in every set while holding UNCG to .036 and .000 percentages in the final two frames.
- McBride earned her first official start for the Purple and Gold after transferring into the program from Mississippi State this spring. East Carolina’s other transfer, Lara Uyar, also saw action in the third set. The Izmir, Turkey native spent her first two collegiate seasons at fellow American Athletic Conference institution Wichita State.
- Freshman outside hitter Ellie Pate made her first collegiate appearance and put down the set-clinching kill in the second stanza.
Georgia Southern tops ECU
The Pirates (1-1) could not contain the efficient Eagle (1-0) offense in the end as Georgia Southern fired at a .234 clip and held ECU to a .125 percentage. The Eagles also held the upper hand in kills (44-31), digs (51-44), total blocks (7.0-6.0) and service aces (4-2). The Pirates hit below .100 in the first and third stanzas.
Reagan Barth led the home side and all players with 15 kills and a .256 hitting percentage while Brittany Wood and Izzy Marinelli posted eight kills apiece for East Carolina. Tia Shum paced the Pirate defense with 11 digs to go along with a 15-assist performance by Payton Evenstad.
Georgia Southern raced out to an early lead in the contest by winning the opening set by nine. East Carolina held a 23-20 advantage late in the second frame, but the Eagles mustered up a 6-1 run to eke out the two-point victory and head into intermission up 2-0 in the match. Georgia Southern finished the job in the third, holding off a late charge by the Pirates to seal the sweep by two points.
Up Next: East Carolina closes out its opening weekend of play Saturday with a rematch against UNC Greensboro. First serve is set for Noon.