10/27/05 — MOC volleyball sweeps Coker

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MOC volleyball sweeps Coker

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 27, 2005 2:02 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Sluggish from a three-set sweep of archrival Barton College on Tuesday, and battling injuries and sickness among its 10 players, Mount Olive College hardly skipped a beat Wednesday evening against Coker (S.C.) College.

Senior outside hitter Heidi Busch led a balanced offensive attack with 15 kills in the Trojans' 30-25, 30-23, 30-18 victory at Kornegay Arena. Mount Olive (21-6) improved to 12-1 against Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference opposition and claimed its 20th consecutive victory at home.

Junior middle hitter Anna Luft, who had a 104-degree temperature earlier Wednesday, provided 14 kills and five blocks. Teammate Colby Mangum, who played with flu-like symptoms, contributed 13 kills and three blocks.

The Trojans swept an opponent for the 12th time this season.

"Very sluggish (start)," said Mount Olive senior setter Sara Christie. "The end of the season is winding down. Everybody is sick and everybody is hurt, but we're trying to make it through. We definitely picked it up as the game progressed."

The teams traded ties and lead changes on 13 occasions in the opening set. Luft's slide kill started a short 4-2 run that gave Mount Olive the advantage for good. Mallory Peavler served an ace and followed with two great defensive digs that led to kills by Mangum and Busch.

Mangum, who connected on her first five kills, added a second kill off a Christie assist to make it 21-17.

"Me and Sara have had some timing issues and we've been working on it in practice," said Mangum. "We talked about it before the game today that we really want to get our timing down before the conference tournament. We just tried to make sure we got our timing right again."

Coker pulled within 25-23 on Courtney Barton's off-speed hit. However, the Cobras (14-13, 13-4 CVAC) would get no closer. Luft's off-speed hit and ace started a set-ending 5-2 run that ended on Mangum's solo block against Barton.

Mangum started the second set in the same fashion, stuffing Barton on a middle-hit attempt. She added a kill as Mount Olive raced to a 4-1 lead. Coker climbed within 5-4 on Andrea Manuel's kill and Tara Nelson's solo block, but faltered.

The Cobras' sloppy passing and failure to close blocks allowed the Trojans to eventually build their biggest lead of the match at 18-11. Mangum, Busch, Luft and sophomore outside hitter Sam Mitchell combined for eight kills and three blocks as the margin widened to 28-15.

"That's huge," said Mangum of tooling kills against Coker's double-blocker coverage. "Sometimes we beat ourselves with stupid mistakes like hitting the ball out of bounds that shouldn't be hit out of bounds, and hitting into blocks.

"The fact we're starting to see our blocks and hit smart, it's great. I'm glad to see it."

Coker delivered a little drama late in the second set with an 8-0 run. But Luft's kill against Manuel's block and a ball-handling error by the Cobras gave the Trojans a 30-23 win.

Mangum's strong offensive performance in the first two sets enabled Christie to open up the offense in the final set. The blockers followed Mangum, which allowed Busch, Luft and Mitchell to find open holes in the Cobra defense.

"Their middle following Colby left Sam and Heidi open on the outside," said Christie, who dished out 38 assists. "It helps when we can get the passing that we need to run the middles quickly. After the first game, when it was neck and neck, we realized Coker is a good team. Anyone can beat us, especially them, if it's going to be anybody.

"We really needed to pick it up a notch and not take them for granted."

Busch delivered two quick kills on the first three points of the final set. Luft blocked an off-speed hit and then dumped the ball to midcourt for a point. Her slide kill from the right side and Busch's dump of a short ball at the net pushed the Trojans comfortably ahead 8-1.

Leading 9-4, Mount Olive tallied four consecutive points off Coker blocking errors. Mangum followed with five straight points -- four kills and a solo block -- in a momentum-gaining 5-1 run. The Trojans comfortably led 18-8 at that point.

Mount Olive scored 12 of the final 22 points to complete its regular-season sweep of Coker.

Tuesday's sweep of Barton started a stretch of seven matches in 11 days. The Trojans visit Queens on Friday, travel to Limestone (S.C.) on Saturday and are the guest of in-state rival Belmont Abbey on Sunday.

Mount Olive takes a two-day break before playing host to Pfeiffer in its home finale on Nov. 2. A victory assures the Trojans of their second consecutive unbeaten season at home.

"It's exciting, but we're not focusing on it so that way we don't lose sight (of the CVAC title)," said Christie. "We're taking it game by game because no matter where we are at, we should be winning."

Notes: Junior libero Nikki Murphy emerged the Trojans' defensive leader with 20 digs. ... Mount Olive hit .365 for the match with 50 kills and just 11 errors in 107 attempts. ... Busch has 2,311 kills in her career, which ranks her ninth all-time in NCAA Division II play. ... Christie is currently 24th all-time in NCAA Division II history with 5,577 career assists. ... Mount Olive had just six service errors and 15 unforced errors.