01/19/13 — Mount Olive volleyball remains undefeated

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Mount Olive volleyball remains undefeated

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 19, 2013 11:38 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The perfect season continues.

But Mount Olive's three-set sweep of Conference Carolinas men's volleyball newcomer Erskine (S.C.) College was hardly flawless Saturday afternoon.

The Trojans overcame second- and third-set deficits, and sank the Flying Fleet 25-21, 25-20, 25-19 at Kornegay Arena. MOC remained unbeaten in four outings this season and matched its best season-opening start since 2010.

"It's early in the season, so there are still a lot of kinks and we've moved people around here and there (on the floor)," first-year Trojans head coach David Heller said. "We're trying to get a lot of people in to get experience. We had four freshmen on the court today ... no one played an extensive amount last year.

"It's about getting the chemistry down to where it's going to be crisp."

Senior Adam Miracle led a balanced MOC attack with 10 kills. Angel Dache and Andres Langler cranked out seven kills apiece. Setter Ben Casado distributed 30 assists among six spikers who combined for an efficient .400 team hitting percentage with just seven errors.

Senior libero Dan Arnold, Casado and Miracle had five digs apiece.

Erskine freshman Mike Michelau pounded out a match-high 16 kills. The Flying Fleet owned a 37-32 advantage in team kills due to the Trojans' defense, which got hands on several balls that led to more attempts.

MOC recorded 10 1/2 blocks.

"I thought we played well, but we did have some lulls," said Miracle, a returning all-Conference Carolinas performer. "Like Coach touched on it, that comes with experience and we're starting to gel together. We've only practiced for two weeks, so it takes time to develop team chemistry."

The Trojans, who have won a program-best 12 consecutive sets, raced to a seven-point lead midway through the opening set. The Flying Fleet (2-1 overall, 1-1 CC) pulled to within 21-19 on a couple of MOC unforced errors and Michelau's kill off a transition ball, but could get no closer.

Lengler's kill ignited a set-ending 4-2 surge that ended on Angel Dache's kill off a transition ball.

Erskine mixed its serves throughout the second and third sets in an attempt to disrupt the MOC offense. Communication breakdowns led to inconsistent passing and the Flying Fleet hitters began to find open spaces against the Trojans' defense.

Dache's kill after the longest rally of the day forged a 14-14 tie. MOC reeled off five of the next points to lead 19-16. A few sideouts later, Dache polished off the set with a solo block of Michelau.

"We sided out when we needed to and we played smart," Miracle said. "We didn't let them come back and beat us when we had a chance to close the game."

The teams battled through 13 ties in the final set.

Knotted at 18-all, MOC finished off Erskine with a 7-1 run that started on Lengler's quick-set kill from Casado thanks to Arnold's defensive save on the back row. Casado added a solo block, Miracle hammered out a monster kill and Dache served two aces.

The match ended on consecutive hitting errors by the Flying Fleet.