11/03/04 — Trojans dump Barton, stay perfect at home

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Trojans dump Barton, stay perfect at home

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 3, 2004 1:55 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Old habits die hard.

Those troublesome skeletons surfaced and nearly prevented the Mount Olive College volleyball team from accomplishing another record-setting feat Tuesday evening. Long-time nemesis Barton College rattled those bones and caused a few head-aches -- especially in game- and match-point play situations.

However, like last year, the Bulldogs had no answer for outside hitter Heidi Busch. Busch provided 33 kills, one short of her career high, and helped turned those bones into dust in a 30-25, 30-25, 31-33, 35-33 victory at College Hall.

Mount Olive, since moving to Division II status in 1995, finished unbeaten (11-0) at home for the first time in school history. The regionally-ranked Trojans (24-11) grabbed sole possession of second place in the NCAA Division II Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference at 15-3.

The Trojans battled without junior middle hitter Colby Mangum, who watched from the sidelines with an eye infection. Freshman Candice Collins filled the void admirably and delivered five kills, three service aces and two solo blocks in her first collegiate start.

Freshmen Sam Mitchell and Ashley Napoles, and sophomore Anna Luft powered their way through numerous Bulldog blocks. Libero Nikki Murphy played strong on defense, digging out kill attempts from Keauna Vinson. Tawnya Harper and Kelly Lamotta.

Mount Olive led 2-0.

Somewhere during the court change the teams changed uniforms, not physically but mentally. Barton began playing better defense and closed out the blocks against Luft and Busch.

The Bulldogs transitioned from defense to offense well and effectively used the hard-hitting Vinson on the front line. The 6-foot sophomore from Zebulon provided nearly one third of her team-leading 28 kills in the third game.

"Not having Colby hurt a lot and No. 24 (Vinson) is really, really good," Busch said. "It would have helped if Colby was in there on her. Candice did a great job for just stepping in and playing. She had awesome blocks (early) and it made a difference."

Barton trailed throughout the game, but put together one last surge.

Trailing 28-25, Vinson and freshman Tanika Jones closed out a block against Busch. Vinson added two kills for a 28-28 tie. Kelly Lamotta served an ace for a 29-28 advantage, but Busch answered with consecutive kills to put the Trojans ahead 30-29.

Vinson and Busch traded kills before Barton reeled off three straight points, including Laurie Alpert's game-clinching ace. A dejected Trojan team walked back to their home bench.

"Our intensity level, after that second game, we thought it was ours," setter Sara Christie said. "We fell into that trap where we think it's ours, we get out there and go through the motions.

"We just went back to our old bad habits, knowing this was an inferior team and thinking they were going to hand it to us for whatever reason. We just dropped down ... made the simple mistakes. We were making the hard plays -- the 'ooh, aah' plays -- but we weren't making the everyday free ball, perfect pass here, perfect set there."

The Bulldogs (14-15, 6-10) maintained their momentum in the fourth game. They continued running their offense, blocking well, and covering the court defensively.

Few balls dropped as the visitors raced to as much as a six-point lead.

Down 28-25, Luft and Christie double blocked Harper on the outside. Napoles served an ace and Luft added a slide kill off Barton's double block for the 28-28 tie.

Mitchell and Lamotta traded kills during their rotation, and Busch finally got to the front line with the game tied at 31-31.

"All I was thinking is that 'no, I don't to go five games,'" a grinning Busch said.

Busch, repeating last year's effort, punished the Bulldogs at the net in the final stages of the game. She pounded three consecutive kills off Barton blocks, including match point at 34-33.

Moments later, Vinson returned a short overpass that Luft easily put away for the match.

"Heidi, we really needed her back on the front row," Christie said. "Everybody wasn't on their 'A' game tonight, so we counted on her to put balls away while she was up there."

Busch, the CVAC player of the week, recorded her 36th consecutive double-figure effort in kills. Luft added 19, while Mitchell contributed 14. The Trojans collected 82 digs overall -- one short of their season high set against Kutztown less than two weeks ago.

Murphy emerged the defensive leader with 19 digs, followed by Mitchell with 16 and Busch with 15.