East Carolina Volleyball Downed By AAC Preseason Favorite

GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU Media Relations) – Cincinnati out-hit East Carolina .333 to .125 Wednesday night on the way to a 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-14) American Athletic Conference volleyball victory over the Pirates at Minges Coliseum.

Team Records: East Carolina 10-5, 0-5 AAC | Cincinnati: 9-7, 4-1 AAC

Torbett’s Take: “This was a better performance by us tonight. Cincinnati is a good team that ran its offense very well. We just have to keep working hard and the wins will come. I am still proud of what we have accomplished at this point in the season.”

Jordan Thompson, the league’s preseason Player of the Year, notched a match-high 20 kills for the Bearcats while Carly Nolan added seven kills and 22 digs. Senior outside hitter Sydney Darden paced ECU with her fourth double-double of the campaign, finishing with 10 kills and 12 digs. Senior setter Sabrina Gonzalez contributed 25 assists and six digs. Additionally, senior middle hitter Ashley McRae racked up four blocks, helping the Pirates out-block Cincinnati 6.0-2.0.

The Bearcats dug 56 balls to East Carolina’s 39 and the teams ended up even with three aces apiece. Cincinnati was able to side out at a 70 percent rate while limiting ECU to 50 percent.

Set One: Thompson led the match off with a kill and the Bearcats were able to stretch the advantage to 7-3 following another Thompson score. The Pirates began to fight back, using a 10-7 run that pulled them within 14-13 and forced a Cincinnati timeout. East Carolina was able to keep within two points late in the frame at 20-18, but the Bearcats secured five of the last six points to take the early match lead.

Set Two: Cincinnati enjoyed another quick start in the second stanza, building a 5-1 lead. Unfazed, ECU answered with a 6-2 run that knotted the score at seven. The Pirates were able to push in front 15-14 after a block by senior outside hitter I’Tiana Taylor and junior middle hitter Natalie Montini. East Carolina kept the upper hand, leading as late as 20-19, but the Bearcats scored the final six points of the set to head into the intermission with a 2-0 match advantage.

Set Three: The third stanza was a close one early on. A Thompson kill afforded the visitors some breathing room at 8-4 before a block by McRae and freshman middle hitter Toya Osuegbu sliced the Pirate deficit to 10-8. Cincinnati began to pull away and built a 15-9 cushion on the way to closing out the match by the 11-point set margin.

Bits and Pieces: East Carolina falls to 0-3 at home while Cincinnati improves to 3-2 in true road matches …. The Bearcats upped their advantage in the series with the Pirates to 10-1 … McRae’s four blocks put her career total at 274 – just three away from taking over ninth on the program career chart … ECU out-blocked its opponent for the third time in five conference matches … Darden’s double-digit kill effort was her team-leading seventh of the campaign … East Carolina needs just six more victories in its final 15 matches to record the first winning season for the program since 2006.

Up Next: The Pirates close out their four-match homestand Friday night against Memphis at 7 p.m.

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