The East Central University volleyball team moved into a three-way tie for first in the Great American Conference standings with a 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-15) win over Northwestern Oklahoma State at the Kerr Activities Center.
Senior Noelle Cope led the Lady Tigers (6-6, 3-0 GAC) with 12 kills, a .350 (12k-5e-20ta) hitting percentage, eight digs and four block assists. Sophomore Hayley Gerken had a strong night at the service line, recording an ECU record five service aces in a four-set match.
In the opening set, the Lady Tigers jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, but the Rangers (1-11, 0-4 GAC) fought back to get within one point (6-5) and kept the match close the rest of the way. The teams battled through eight tie scores and five lead changes throughout the set, with the final tie coming at 23-all. It was NWOSU that used the momentum they had gained through the set to earn the final two points needed for the 23-25 win.
The second set was close at the start, with seven ties and two lead changes before either team reached double digits on the scoreboard. After a tie at 11, the Lady Tigers used a key 5-1 run that gave them control of the set. ECU kept pushing and, despite a late rally by the Rangers with the Lady Tigers at set-point, earned the 25-19 win.
ECU again jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the third set and again saw NWOSU tie the set at five, but this time the Lady Tigers took control and never looked back. ECU used a 6-2 run to push ahead 11-7 and earned the 25-16 win.
The fourth set was again tight at the start, but the Lady Tigers used a 5-1 run to take an 8-3 advantage. The lead was all they needed; as ECU went on to win 25-15.
Neither team had a strong hitting percentage, with ECU earning a .189 (48k-27e-111ta) to .042 (33k-28e-118ta) advantage. The Lady Tigers also out-blocked (13-9) and earned more service aces (9-4) over the Rangers.
ECU will now hit the road to face two strong GAC opponents. The Lady Tigers will first break the stalemate at the top of the standings, as they battle with Harding who is one of the teams that ECU is tied with at the top of the GAC standings, Friday, Oct. 4 at 7p.m. The Lady Tigers will then travel and face Arkansas Tech, Saturday, Oct. 5 at 2 p.m.