04/03/10 — Trojans block, but King takes Conference Carolinas volleyball bout

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Trojans block, but King takes Conference Carolinas volleyball bout

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 3, 2010 11:05 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive couldn't chase down King College.

The Tornado extended their win streak to 10 matches with a come-from-behind 27-30, 30-26, 33-31, 31-29 triumph over the Trojans in the Conference Carolinas regular-season men's volleyball finale for both teams Friday evening at Kornegay Arena.

Mount Olive (17-4 overall, 6-2 CC) recorded back-to-back, three-set sweeps of winless Mount St. Joseph to conclude the inaugural Mount Olive College Classic.

Senior outside hitter Christiaan Rombaut came close to the first-ever triple-double of his career and Trojan program history with 19 kills, 12 digs and nine blocks against King. Fellow senior Noel Garcia provided 19 kills, while middles Jose Lanier and Camilo Guerci posted 10 kills apiece.

One of the nation's top defensive teams, the Trojans logged 18 blocks.

That season-long strength, however, turned into MOC's weakness. Tornado hitters constantly pounded kills off block attempts that the Trojans failed to consistently close at the net or cover defensively.

King hit just .287 for the match. Senior Ariel Apolinario, a 6-foot-4 hitter from Miami, collected a match-high 23 kills and registered a .588 hitting percentage. Overall, the Tornado had 75 kills, including 16 from James Friddle.

"We've had one of the best blocking teams in the nation for months and you can't live off that without thinking you're going to eventually get a deflection," said MOC coach Cole Tallman. "In-between balls really hurt us tonight. We didn't run anything down successfully like the other team. They didn't let a ball that was touched by the block get past them very much.

"We did not make that extra, exciting and necessary play sometimes."

The Trojans, instead, kept the Tornado in the match. MOC committed hitting errors, which steadily increased each set, and finished with 27 overall in the disappointing home defeat.

"Hitting out bounds ... hitting into the net," said Tallman. "A majority of the time, we were keeping both teams in the game. We would make a spectacular play and give up a mediocre one.

"Give all the credit them because they did the job when they needed to. They're very aggressive servers and their young people don't make mistakes."

MOC squandered an eight-point lead in the opening set and broke a 25-25 tie on Garcia's kill off Alex Hoekstra's assist. King forced a 26-26 tie before Adam Miracle's kill down the line and back-to-back Tornado errors pushed the Trojans ahead 29-27.

A double block from Lanier-Rombaut capped the set.

The teams traded 14 ties in the second set before King (12-5, 4-4) pulled away to even the best-of-five affair at 1-all. The Tornado erased two Trojan set points to win the third set and ended the fourth set with a three-point run.

Despite the loss, Mount Olive returns home for the Conference Carolinas tournament championship against in-state rival Lees-McRae on Apr. 17. LMC finished in a three-way tie with King and Limestone for second place in the league, but owned the tiebreaker to advance to the title match.