03/26/06 — Bobcats defeat young, inexperienced Trojan men in volleyball

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Bobcats defeat young, inexperienced Trojan men in volleyball

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 26, 2006 2:10 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive College setter Zach Wilson doesn't hold grudges against opponents that expose the Trojans' weaknesses on the volleyball court.

He expects it to happen. But Wilson, admittedly, gets a little upset when he and his teammates play well in spurts and can't keep the momentum.

Such was the case Friday evening.

In-state rival Lees-McRae College attacked every area of the court with precision in a 30-21, 30-25, 28-30, 30-22 victory at Kornegay Arena. The Bobcats claimed their fourth consecutive win in the series and exited 7-4 overall.

"We're lacking experience and it shows since we're all freshmen and sophomores," said Wilson. "We tend to start out slow because of them (mistakes), but they become more noticeable towards the end when it comes to clutch time ... when you're within two points."

Each time the Trojans gained any measure of momentum, they'd commit an attack error or allow the aggressive-hitting Bobcats to put together a long run. Senior middle hitter Kevin Peoples, along with outside hitters Brandon Williams and Steven Dierstein, combined for 59 kills.

LMC setter Luis Lazaballet, who played libero last season, dished out a match-high 74 assists.

"Right-side block is probably our weaker spot," said Wilson, referring to William's monster offensive effort. "We were trying to help the middles a lot, so it was hard to get outside. We're young and inexperienced on defense.

"We're learning how to move around our blocks and where to set up our defense. They hit really good spots and I have to give them some credit for that."

The Bobcats posted 79 kills as a team and benefited from 27 unforced errors by the Trojans.

"We have a pretty balanced offense and don't go to one guy, even though Brandon had a nice night," said first-year Lees-McRae coach James Petrik. "We like to keep it balanced to where no one knows where the ball is going. That's why we're so spread out (statistically)."

Lees-McRae held a slim 19-16 lead in the opening game and pulled away with strong play at the net. Peoples (13 kills) started an 11-5 run with a kill off Lazaballet's assist. Peoples and Harris followed up with a block against the Trojans' Julio Arnaiz to make it 21-16.

Arnaiz pulled Mount Olive within 22-17 on middle-court kill off Wilson's assist. Poeples, Williams and Dierstein -- all seniors -- combined for four kills to thwart any further Trojan comeback.

The teams played a steady pace and traded several sideouts points throughout the early stages of game two. Mount Olive trailed 23-18 after an attack, but climbed within 24-23.

Freshman middle hitter Michael Carroll slammed a kill off Wilson's assist. Cesar Trigo de Serrano served an ace to make it 23-20. Williams delivered a kill for the Bobcats. The Trojans responded with three consecutive points -- a Serrano kill, an LMC attack error and Pedro Penate's solo block against Peoples.

Peoples and Williams, who was heckled by MOC fans throughout the match, combined for four kills in a game-ending 6-2 run.

"He (Williams) came alive as soon as the crowd started talking to him," said Petrik. "It's not a good thing to talk trash to a guy. The crowd got Brandon fired up."

Mount Olive wasted a three-point lead early in game three and fell behind 17-9. The Trojans regained their composure and rattled off a 21-11 run that helped them avoid their sixth three-game loss of the season.

Arnaiz (17 kills) provided a spark at the net and Wilson handed out seven assists during the offensive surge. Serrano's solo block against Peter Valadez closed the gap to 26-22.

LMC committed four consecutive attack errors, which led to a 26-26 tie. Arnaiz ripped a kill against Peoples and Carroll solo blocked Williams to put the Trojans ahead 28-26.

Trailing 29-27, the Bobcats fended off one game point on Peoples' middle-court kill. Peoples then served into the net to the end the game.

"We caught fire and everybody stayed up," said Wilson. "If we can stay like that for three games straight, we'd probably win 3-0 every time. We finally found our fire and rode it through the game."

Chris Gaskill's kill put LMC ahead 3-2 in the fourth game and the visitors never relinquished the lead. The Bobcats grabbed their biggest lead at 27-18 on Williams' kill from the right side.

Mount Olive never answered.

"We made too many simple mistakes," said second-year MOC coach Sasha Gutor, whose team ended its home slate 1-2. "We let ourselves get caught out of position too many times.

"We're very happy to be able to play at home this week. We appreciate the fan support from students, staff and parents."

The Trojans (5-10) return to action Apr. 21-22 with back-to-back games at Lees-McRae.