CINCINNATI, Ohio – East Carolina had late leads in each of the three sets Friday afternoon, but Cincinnati rallied each time to post a 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 30-28) American Athletic Conference victory inside Fifth-Third Arena.
The Pirates (1-2, 0-2 AAC) nearly upset the defending AAC regular season champion twice over the last two days, scoring no less than 21 points in each of the seven sets and losing five of them by just two.
Sydney Kleinman posted her second double-double in three tries this year, tallying a match-high 18 kills to go along with 13 digs and three block assists. Bri Wood also ended up with her third double-double, notching 14 kills and 13 digs as well as a .256 hitting percentage, while Alisi Motu’apuaka chipped in with 35 assists and 11 digs for her third double-double in an East Carolina uniform. Natalie Tyson was the fourth Pirate in double figures defensively, claiming 13 digs of her own.
Maria Mallon and Adria Oliver secured 13 and 11 kills respectively to lead the Bearcat offense while Payton Frederick paced the squad with 13 digs.
Cincinnati held a slight 45-43 advantage in the kill department, but ECU out-dug the hosts, 62-58. Both teams finished with five total blocks.
East Carolina used a timeout midway through the first set when an attack error gave the Bearcats a 12-7 lead. Cincinnati led by as much as 17-12 before a 6-1 run allowed the Pirates to knot the score at 18. The teams played to a deadlock at 19 before the Bearcats scored a quick two points to force ECU into its final timeout of the stanza. The Pirates rallied for a 22-21 advantage when Oliver misfired on offense, however, Cincinnati broke a 22-22 tie with a set-ending 3-1 run to claim the first.
It was more of the same in the second frame. East Carolina used its first timeout when a Sarah Norcom service ace propelled the Bearcats to a 12-10 lead. The Pirates got back on level terms when a Wood kill tied things up at 14. A Cincinnati attack error saw ECU grab a 22-19 edge, but the Pirates could not hold on as the Bearcats scored six of the final seven points to win the second stanza by two and head into intermission with a 2-0 match lead.
The third set featured numerous ties and lead changes. East Carolina utlitzed a timeout when Maria Tobergte put down a kill to allow Cincinnati to creep in front 18-17, but the Pirates scored three of the next five points to even the score at 20. A kill by Priscilla Jones put ECU at set point, 24-22. However, the Pirates could not put the home team away. An East Carolina service error and attack error forged a 24-24 deadlock and the Bearcats fought off two set points to eventually take the third in volleyball’s version of overtime.
Up Next: The Pirates open their 2020-21 spring home schedule with two matches against South Florida Feb. 18-19 inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.