09/23/04 — MOC volleyball recovers, tops Pfeiffer in four

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MOC volleyball recovers, tops Pfeiffer in four

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 23, 2004 1:56 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Several factors determined Mount Olive College's come-from-behind victory against Pfeiffer University on Wednesday evening. But two circumstances -- an opening-game loss and a setter change -- proved the most crucial.

The Trojans knew about the Falcons' stunning upset against nine-defending conference champion Lees-McRae. And when Pfeiffer dominated the first game against Mount Olive, the Trojans players' eyes widened in disbelief.

This wasn't supposed to happen.

Not in their house.

"The loss was a wake-up call," said MOC junior outside hitter Heidi Busch.

MOC VolleyBall

News-Argus/Dennis Hill

Mount Olive's Heidi Busch, far left, and Colby Mangum (1) go up for the joust against Pfeiffer outside hitter Nicole Cummings. The Trojans' Ashley Napoles (12) watches the play during their come-from-behind victory against the Falcons at College Hall.

The Trojans regrouped and clipped the Falcons 25-30, 30-15, 30-25, 30-19 in their NCAA Division II Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference battle. Mount Olive (9-4) gained sole possession of second place in the league at 6-1 heading into Saturday's home twinbill against Coker (S.C.) College.

Pfeiffer arrived late and the players rushed around as they prepared for the match. The hastiness seemed to affect Busch and her teammates, and distracted their focus.

The Falcons controlled the net in the opening game and covered every angle on Trojan kill attempts. Mount Olive setter Sara Christie struggled to push the ball outside to the antennae, which would have stretched the Falcon defense and opened more space on the floor.

The inconsistent movement allowed Pfeiffer's players to set up the double block near the corners, and pinch behind the blockers for tip plays. The Trojans also passed poorly and generated little offensive attacks for Busch, and middle hitters Colby Mangum and Anna Luft.

"We weren't focused on defense," Busch said. "We just didn't click."

Back-up setter Aileen Torres started the second game in place of Christie, a similar move that paid dividends Sunday against Anderson (S.C.) College. Torres quickly established an offensive rhythm with assists to Mangum and Busch, who each collected a kill in the quick 3-0 spurt.

Torres, a sophomore, began running the offensive combinations with ease. The Trojans executed their fakes and forced Pfeiffer's blockers to commit early, which enabled Busch, Mangum and Luft to pound away at the defense.

The trio helped Mount Olive build a 13-4 lead.

"Aileen is a positive leader and picks everybody up around her," Busch said. "With her coming off the bench, that brought a lot of positive energy and you could see it on the court.

"As long as our passing is good and we run the combinations, they're hard to read because we have people going everywhere."

Freshman outside hitter Sam Mitchell contributed several kills and off-speed hits as the Trojans cruised ahead by as many 13 points late in the second game. Mitchell's kill, which was set up by a Mangum dig, and a kill error gave the Trojans a 30-15 win.

Pfeiffer (7-8, 5-2 CVAC) regrouped and slowed down the Trojans in the third game. The Falcons received good plays at the net from freshman Vera Taylor and sophomore Heather Klein en route to a 17-14 lead.

Three consecutive ball-handling errors and Mitchell's kill off another Torres assist -- one of a career-high 41 on the night -- gave Mount Olive the lead back at 18-17. After a couple of ties, the Trojans re-established their combination offense in an 8-1 run and claimed a 2-1 advantage overall in the match score.

"My middle's knees (Klein) were bothering her and I really didn't know that until today," Pfeiffer coach Dean Miller said. "She complained about not being able to close the block, which is a big part of the game.

"Heidi hit the ball well tonight ... not quite as well as she was hitting last year. But she's getting back on track."

Serve-receive errors haunted the Falcons in game four as Mangum served two aces to go along with two Busch kills in an early 9-1 run. The Falcons pulled within 16-13, but would get no closer as freshman Ashley Napoles and Luft each blasted a kill off Torres assists.

Luft drilled the Falcon defense for 14 kills and hit an astounding .481 for the match with just one error. She added three solo blocks, three block assists and five aces.

Busch finished with 20 kills, two solo blocks and two block assists.

Mitchell and sophomore Nikki Murphy led the defense with 11 digs apiece. Torres and Busch combined for 18 digs.