02/06/09 — Mount Olive knocks off E. Mennonite

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Mount Olive knocks off E. Mennonite

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 6, 2009 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Unforgetful of a five-set loss to nationally-ranked Eastern Mennonite (Va.) University less than four weeks ago, Mount Olive College exacted its revenge Thursday evening.

Senior outside hitter Pedro Penate posted a double-double -- team-high 16 kills and 14 digs -- as the Trojan men's volleyball team claimed a 30-21, 30-25, 26-30, 30-28 victory over the Royals at Kornegay Arena. Mount Olive remained unbeaten in four home outings this season.

Noel Garcia delivered 14 kills, while middle man Mike Carroll recorded a career-high six blocks in the four-set affair. Fellow middle Jose Lanier contributed 12 kills and four blocks. First-year libero Felix Reimundo supplied a team-high 15 digs.

Mount Olive (5-3 overall) got the fast start it needed in the first two sets.

Back-to-back kills from Carroll and Lanier gave the Trojans an early six-point advantage in the opening set. Lanier's solo block against 6-foot-2 junior Justin Reesor gave MOC its biggest lead, 26-18.

Eastern Mennonite (5-3) fended off one set point at 29-25 on Cody Kennedy's kill. But the Royals committed a service error to the end the set.

In the second set, Mount Olive tallied the first seven points behind Lanier, Garcia and Penate. Reimundo had two monster digs during the surge and the Trojans' lead grew to as many as 11 points.

Again, the set ended on an EMU service error.

"They had that long trip and when you have that circumstance you have to take advantage of (weariness)," said first-year Trojans coach Cole Tallman of the quick 2-0 start. "They're always going to fight hard. We played them once already and we know that's a characteristic of their team."

The Royals, ranked No. 13 in the AVCA Division III preseason poll, made the Trojans work in the third set. The teams battled through 15 ties and six lead changes before Eastern Mennonite took the lead for good at 27-26 on Reesor's kill.

Reesor and Patrick Fox combined to record back-to-back double blocks against Penate and Garcia to make it 29-26. Shane Holderby clinched the set with a solo block against Penate.

The teams traded seven leads and created 13 ties in the final set.

Kennedy, a freshman, kept the Royals within striking distance by pounding out 10 of his match-high 19 kills. The Trojans squandered a pair of three-point leads, but seized control on an off-speed hitting error by EMU.

Garcia's service ace gave Mount Olive match point at 29-26. Eastern Mennonite climbed within 29-28 on an unforced error and Holderby's ace, but couldn't close the deal. Holderby ended the match with a hitting error.

"We set up a lot of competitive situations (in practice)," said Tallman. "I know that even in our bad moments we're still trying hard and giving our best effort. I always believe that every opponent and every player we go against is going to have their best night of all time."

But the Trojans got revenge.