09/06/06 — MOC spikers lose 3-set shocker to Coker

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MOC spikers lose 3-set shocker to Coker

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 6, 2006 2:11 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The Mount Olive College volleyball team, realistically, expected its two-year, home-court win streak to end at any time.

But not in this fashion.

Coker (S.C.) College reeled off a 21-5 run in the third set and snapped the Trojans' school-record, 21-match win streak with a 30-14, 30-28, 30-14 decision Tuesday evening at Kornegay Arena. The Cobras (4-5) ended their four-match skid and improved to 2-0 against Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference opposition.

It was the home and CVAC opener for Mount Olive.

"They were a tough opponent," said second-year MOC assistant coach Gordon Kirby. "They had a lot of things go their way tonight. We had some good moments out there, but struggled to shut them down."

Freshman middle hitter Allie Bragg paced Coker's offense with a match-high 12 kills, while junior outside hitter Megan Haupt provided 10. Haupt and Kelsey Carlson each collected 18 digs in the 88-minute, three-set affair.

Mount Olive (1-4) couldn't overcome its sporadic passing game that disrupted the timing for first-year setters Mariangelix Cordero and Joanie Werling. Junior outside hitter Sam Mitchell emerged the Trojans' offensive leader with eight kills.

Anna-Marie Luft and Alicia Mote each recorded six kills.

Mitchell and sophomores Mallory Peavler and Kari Ham endured their first-ever loss at home. Luft and senior libero Nikki Murphy tasted defeat at home for just the third time in their respective careers.

"We played hard," said Coker coach Chuck Mullen. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy coming up here at the beginning of the year. We were coming off a rough weekend.

"We have a lot of experience this year -- a junior- and senior-laden team."

Coker, a CVAC tournament semifinalist last season, grabbed an early five-point lead in the opening set. Junior Margaret Madison, a second-team all-CVAC selection in 2005, provided two solo blocks and one kill during that stretch.

Mount Olive committed five unforced errors and didn't score an offensive point until Mote slammed a kill off a short pass by Coker. The Cobras built a double-digit lead at 19-9 and kept that advantage en route to the opening-set win.

"We had good intensity," said Mullen. "We put balls away and were in (our) system most of the match. When we do that, we have the tendency to be pretty successful."

The Trojans discovered some offensive rhythm in the second set. Mote and Mitchell pounded kills from the outside, and Luft recorded her first kill to put Mount Olive ahead 12-8.

However, closing blocks proved to be crucial. The Cobras' Madison, Bragg and Haupt each drilled kills off solo- or double-block attempts by the Trojans. Mount Olive committed 10 blocking errors as Coker erased its deficit and pulled away for a two-point win.

"Drain-o blocks," said Kirby. "Several times we went up to block and the ball came right down in front of us."

Mount Olive never threatened in the third set.

Coker turned a 1-1 tie into a 7-2 advantage. Madison had two kills and a solo block during that offensive surge. The Trojans pulled within 7-3 on Racey Bartley's middle-court kill off Werling's assist.

The Cobras seized control with a 16-4 run.

The Trojans, who have seven freshmen on its 14-player roster, begin a four-game road swing Friday at CVAC member Belmont Abbey. They visit Queens on Saturday afternoon, and travel to Converse (S.C.) on Monday.

Mount Olive concludes the trip with a visit to in-state rival St. Andrews on Sept. 13.

"I think we're going to be okay," said Kirby. "I'd like to see them work a little more with communication. We need to learn from this because we have a tough weekend ahead of us.

"Mentally we need to prepare for it and physically, we need to work hard as hard as we can."