09/25/05 — MOC rolls past Anderson

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MOC rolls past Anderson

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 25, 2005 2:13 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A highly-anticipated matchup between two of the top three volleyball teams in Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference play turned into a one-sided affair Saturday afternoon.

Mount Olive College remained perfect in seven CVAC outings with a 30-20, 30-17, 30-25 victory over Anderson (S.C.) College at Kornegay Arena. The host Trojans (9-2) seized their eighth consecutive win and extended their home-match victory streak to 17.

Anderson (9-6) endured its second consecutive loss and exited 4-2 against CVAC opposition. Just four days ago, the visiting Trojans -- who have three freshman in the starting lineup -- reeled off four straight league wins. In-state rival Limestone halted the streak Thursday and Mount Olive avenged a road defeat last season with its three-set sweep.

"We wanted to come out, play strong and continue the momentum from last night," said sophomore outside hitter Sam Mitchell. "(The win vs. Queens) was the first game we really had it together as a team ... played together really well.

"Today, we just wanted to improve on some of the things we needed to work on."

Mount Olive played near flawless in the 74-minute affair. Either Mitchell or Heidi Busch, who surpassed the 2,000-kill mark against Queens, responded with timely kills when the Trojans needed some offensive punch.

Meanwhile, Anderson struggled with its serve receive during several stretches and couldn't consistently get its middle hitters involved in the offense. Coach Jennifer Bell's team shanked passes and yielded numerous transition balls that Mount Olive consistently attacked well. Mitchell emerged the catalyst in the opening set. The Wisconsin native provided five consecutive kills and one block to give Mount Olive a comfortable 14-5 lead. Once Busch rotated into her normal left-outside hitting spot, the 5-foot-11 senior pounded kills off double blocks or connected on off-speed hits.

Busch delivered three straight kills as Mount Olive boosted its advantage to 20-10.

Anderson battled and climbed within 26-20 after a service error. The Trojans regrouped and Mitchell started a 4-0 run with a kill off Sara Christie's assist. Colby Mangum blocked Anderson's Heather Swain in the middle and Mitchell served an ace to give Mount Olive set point at 29-20.

Busch finished off Anderson with a kill off another Christie assist.

"I think we were a little shaky at the beginning," said Bell. "Serve-receive really set the tone in that first game. We're young ... have four players who play the bulk of the time."

The teams battled to a 10-10 tie in the second set before Mount Olive unleashed a 13-4 run.

Mangum started the surge by dumping a short serve return just inside the 3-meter line. After a hitting error, Anna Luft and freshman Kari Ham double-blocked Swain on the outside. Mitchell, Busch and Luft then combined for four kills to make it 18-12.

Anderson's Leanna Willis, a sophomore, stopped the run with an off-speed hit down the line. But the Trojans quickly earned the sideout on Luft's kill and concluded the second set with a 6-3 spurt.

"We communicated well and were intense," Mitchell said of the first two sets. "We're getting to the point now where if we make a mistake, we can bring it back ... strong enough to do that if we just play together. We're not scared about losing if we're down."

Despite racing to a 4-0 lead, Mount Olive lost its focus and intensity in the third set. The Trojans fell behind by three points twice, but stayed within striking distance.

Down 18-15, Luft blocked Laura Tye in the middle. After a net violation, Mitchell slammed a kill to midcourt. The teams traded sideouts until Mangum's slam to the middle tied it at 20-20. Busch's kill gave the Trojans a 21-20 lead which they never relinquished.

Mount Olive scored nine of the next 14 points and ended the match on Mitchell's off-speed hit inside the 3-meter line. The Trojans earned their fourth consecutive straight-set sweep of an opponent and sixth overall.

Bell said communication and confidence factored into Anderson's demise in the final set. She quickly added that she respects Mount Olive and knew playing them on their home court would be a difficult assignment.

Mitchell reached double figures in kills (14) for the fifth consecutive match and sixth time overall in her last seven outings.

Busch provided a match-high 20 kills, while Christie dished out 42 assists. Mangum collected a match-high five blocks. Junior libero Nikki Murphy had eight digs defensively.

Mount Olive begins an 11-game road swing Tuesday evening at in-state rival Pfeiffer University. Also included in that stretch are weekend tournaments at Wheeling Jesuit (W. Va.) University and Lock Haven (Pa.) University, where the Trojans made the first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional.