GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina jumped on top of Memphis early Sunday afternoon and did not let up, cruising to a 3-0 (25-12, 25-21, 25-22) American Athletic Conference victory inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
Super senior outside hitter Sydney Kleinman made her return after a six-match absence, recording a contest-high 18 kills and adding 19 digs for her second double-double of the campaign. Freshman Payton Evenstad and senior Janiece Jefferies combined to run a 6-2 offense in the match, totaling 31 assists and 13 digs between them, while freshman libero Tia Shum posted nine digs of her own. Sabrina Bianco paced Memphis with a double-double of 22 assists and 13 digs.
The Tigers (8-8, 1-3 AAC) committed 24 attacking errors on 121 attempts and collected just 32 kills to finish with an .066 hitting percentage. Conversely, ECU (6-7, 2-2 AAC) fired at a .213 clip with 41 kills on 122 swings with only 15 miscues. Memphis held the slimmest of advantages in total digs (60-59) while the Pirates enjoyed a 6.0-4.0 edge in total blocks.
A pair of strong serving runs told the story of the first set. With the proceedings tied at three in the early going, a Tiger attacking error sparked 4-0 East Carolina run. Memphis was able to score the next two points to pull within two, however, Kleinman unleashed from the service line, putting the ball in play 10-straight times. When the dust settled, the Pirates found themselves in front 17-5 before eventually winning the stanza by 13.
The teams battled to a 7-7 deadlock in the second and traded the lead back and forth until an ECU setting error left things knotted at 14. A Tiger attacking error and kill by freshman right side Sophia Kruczko prompted Memphis to use its first timeout before consecutive attacking errors later pushed the visitors in front 19-18. A Kleinman kill and block by freshman middle blocker Amelia Davis and senior outside hitter Natalie Tyson put the lead back in the Pirates’ possession 20-19, forcing the Tigers to burn their final timeout. A kill off the arm of Tyson and another Memphis attacking error gave East Carolina all the breathing room it would need to close out the frame by four and take a two sets to none lead at the intermission.
With things tied at six in the third, a 4-0 Pirate run capped by a Jefferies service ace afforded ECU some early separation. East Carolina did not give up the lead the rest of the way, even though the Tigers were able to slice their deficit to 18-17 late in the stanza. Kills by senior right side Bri Wood and Kleinman propelled the Pirates ahead by three before Memphis made one last push to draw within 22-21. A service error allowed ECU to take a 23-21 lead and Kleinman would close things out with a kill just a few rallies later.
Up Next: East Carolina remains at home for its next match, welcoming Cincinnati to Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum Wednesday at 7 p.m. The match will be streamed live via ESPN+.