09/21/05 — MOC sweeps Barton

View Archive

MOC sweeps Barton

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 21, 2005 2:11 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Heidi Busch continued her march toward unprecedented school and conference records, and Mount Olive celebrated setter Sara Christie's return with a straight-set sweep of archrival Barton College on Tuesday evening.

Busch collected nine kills in the Trojans' 30-20, 30-21, 30-28 victory at Kornegay Arena. The senior outside hitter boosted her four-year career total to 1,988 kills and could eclipse the 2,000 mark Friday at home against Queens University. Busch is bidding to become the first player in MOC and Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference history to reach the 2,000-kill plateau.

Meanwhile, Christie missed three league matches with a left-knee injury. An MRI (magnetic resonant image) revealed Christie completely tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), but she received clearance from the doctor Monday to continue playing. It's the same injury Christie sustained as a sophomore and she wore a knee brace the remainder of that season.

Christie dished out 32 assists against the Bulldogs and stepped closer to the 5,000-assist mark for her career.

"I could tell that I had been sitting out for a week, but it felt good to be back on the court with my team," said Christie.

Mount Olive (7-2, 4-0 CVAC) seized its 15th consecutive home win and beat Barton for the seventh straight time in regular-season play.

Junior middle hitter Keauna Vinson paced the Bulldogs with a match-high 17 kills and three solo blocks.

However, Barton (3-14, 2-5) committed 43 unforced errors en route to its eighth straight loss.

The Trojans faced yet another team that concentrated on Busch defensively. The Bulldogs covered the short middle court well and Busch, who had eight hitting errors, ripped several kill attempts either long or wide of the 3-meter line.

Sophomore outside hitter Sam Mitchell provided a team-best 13 kills. Junior middle hitter Anna Luft added nine, including back-to-back kills late in the second set. Overall, Mount hit .202 as a team with 39 kills and 18 errors in 104 attempts.

"We are adjusting ... actually running quicker middles to get their middle (blocker) to follow us," said Luft. "That will leave a big hole for Heidi to go ahead and hit angle. It worked pretty good and we're able to run sides now with Sara back in.

"(Having Sara) was definitely a big step in the leadership direction. With her being out, it was hard for everyone to meld together and be a leader together. Sara came out and took control out there. She was great."

The Trojans struggled with their passing game on occasion, but Christie moved well with the braced knee and gave her teammates a chance to attack Barton's scrappy defense. Vinson emerged the visitors' lone offensive weapon. The 6-footer from Zebulon received little front-line help from either sophomore Michelle Walker or sophomore Tanika Jones.

The Bulldogs committed 27 attack errors, including 19 in the first two sets combined.

Mount Olive weathered Barton runs in the first two sets. The Trojans led 15-9 before Kari Poling served an ace and Vinson blocked an off-speed hit by Colby Mangum. A hitting error forced second-year Trojan coach Oleksandr "Sasha" Gutor to burn his first timeout.

Vinson converted a shanked pass into a kill to pull the Bulldogs within 15-13. Busch's kill off Christie's assist and a Luft kill made it 17-14. The teams traded a couple of points before Mount Olive gained control with Luft at the service line.

The scant three-point lead ballooned to 26-19. Mangum put away a short ball and Busch connected on another kill. Barton fought off one set point before a ball-handling error gave the Trojans the opening set 30-20.

The Bulldogs, who have lost four consecutive CVAC matches, turned a 10-10 tie into a 16-13 lead midway through the second set. Mitchell delivered two kills to help Mount Olive forge a 17-17 tie and eventually gain a three-point lead at 20-17 on Christie's setter dump.

The Trojans put Barton away with a 10-4 run.

"There were times where we played at their speed and we have a bad habit of doing that," said Luft. "We actually got out of the rut pretty quick this time. We did a lot better and there was a lot more confidence out there."

Barton jumped ahead 8-2 in the decisive third set behind Vinson's steady net play. Mount Olive aided the deficit with a couple of unforced errors, but slowly pecked away with good play from Mitchell, Luft and Mangum. The trio combined for seven kills in a key mid-set run to go ahead 17-15. Luft's back-to-back kills gave the Trojans a lead they nearly relinquished later.

The Bulldogs rallied for a 28-28 tie as Vinson successfully converted six consecutive kills during a 7-2 run. A net violation by Barton and Mitchell's kill on match point off Christie's assist gave the Trojans their third sweep of a CVAC opponent this season.

"I was a little bit nervous," said a smiling Christie. "I have little bit farther to go this season before it gets fixed, so I'm trying to make sure it stays well. For the next game, I think the nervousness about my knee will be gone because I did so well tonight.

"I'm not feeling any pain, so that's always a good sign."

Notes: Junior libero Nikki Murphy paced the Trojans with nine digs. ... The current senior class -- Busch, Mangum and Christie -- owns the best home record (41-6) in MOC history. ... Barton is 2-8 on the road this season. ... The three-set match featured 15 ties and 15 lead changes, and took 75 minutes to play. ... Mount Olive committed 30 unforced errors.