The East Central University volleyball team fought hard, but was just short of winning the opening match of the 2013 season. The Lady Tigers (0-1) fell to the University of Hawaii Hilo 2-3 (20-25, 25-23, 26-24, 19-25, 5-15) at the UHH Gymnasium.
“It was a good match,” said head coach Dave Thorn. “Hilo was tough defensively and the first four sets were back and forth. Hilo got out to an early lead in the fifth and we never recovered. We will have to play better on Saturday but overall I'm happy with our energy and cohesion.”
Both teams gave each other problems defensively, holding each other to lower hitting percentages. ECU hit .135 (53k-32e-156ta) and the Vulcans (3-0) hit at a .134 (49k-29e-149ta) pace. Both teams also performed well at the net, with the Lady Tigers recording nine total team blocks to UHH’s seven.
Sophomore Hayley Gerken led ECU, with a .231 (16k-7e-39ta) hitting percentage, two service aces, eight digs and three (1-2) total blocks. Seniors Danielle Essix and Ashley Williams also contributed 10 kills each, while senior Taylor Brown garnered a team-best 16 digs.
The opening set started close, with four ties and two lead changes. The final tie came at 10-all, when the Vulcans started a 4-0 run to give them the advantage for good. They didn’t allow ECU to get more than one-point at a time the rest of the set and took the 20-25 win.
The second set was an even closer battle, resulting in 10 ties and seven lead changes. The set was tight until a late 20-all tie. The Lady Tigers then put together a 4-0 run to take a two-point advantage. UHH continued to fight, but were unable to get closer than one point the rest of the set and a kill from Essix ended with a 25-23 ECU win.
In set three, the Vulcans took an early 10-4 lead, but the Lady Tigers quickly tied the set at 13 and then the teams traded points until the set was knotted at 24. ECU earned the last two points on UHH errors for the 26-24 extra-point win.
The fourth set started out tight, but after a 10-all tie, the Vulcans used a 5-0 run to take the lead for good. The Lady Tigers could only get within two the rest of the set and fell 19-25.
After battling the entire match, UHH took early control of the fifth-and-deciding set to jump out to a 0-6 advantage. ECU kept fighting, but was not able to recover and fell 5-15.
The two teams will face each other again, Saturday, Sept. 7 at 9 p.m. (CST) at the UHH Gymnasium.