PHOENIX, Ariz. --- The Carthage College men's volleyball team rallied to defeat Lees-McRae College in four sets on Sunday afternoon by scores of 23-25, 25-18, 25-21, and 25-19. Three Red Men tallied double-digit kills to pace Carthage past the Bobcats.
Carthage (3-6) hit .427 on the day, recording at least a .375 hitting percentage in each set while holding the Bobcats (4-4) to a .248 clip on the attack and posting 12 team blocks.
Chad Mercado (Orlando, Fla.) paced the Bobcats with a match- and season-high 24 kills, posting a .354 hitting percentage to go along with nine digs and three service aces. John Lucas (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Matt Harpenau (Cincinnati, Ohio) each recorded seven kills for the Bobcats, as Randy Ramirez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) posted 42 assists and Juan Ramirez (Miami, Fla.) notched a match-high 15 digs.
Tom O'Connell (Chicago, Ill.) paced the Red Men with 17 kills and a .556 hitting percentage, while Randy Hansen (Oak Lawn, Ill.) and Jim Schultz (Salem, Wis.) added 13 and 11 kills, respectively. Hansen also posted 10 digs to record a double-double, while Connor Wexter (New Lenox, Ill.) chipped in a match-high 46 assists. O'Connell also notched eight digs, as Tyler Frings (Hubertus, Wis.) and Tim Walker (Milwaukee, Wis.) each posted a match-high five blocks.
Carthage jumped out to an early 3-1 lead in the first set before Lees-McRae responded, launching a 14-9 run to take a 15-12 lead on back-to-back service aces from Mercado. The Bobcats would then push the margin to 20-16 on a block by Mercado and Lucas before closing out the 25-23 first-set win on a solo block by Randy Ramirez.
The Red Men responded early in the second set, opening an early 9-2 lead before the Bobcats answered, launching a 5-3 spurt to cut the margin to 12-8 on a Carthage miscue. Carthage would hold the lead for the remainder of the frame, pushing the margin to 20-12 on back-to-back kills by O'Connell and Walker. Then, with Carthage leading 24-15, the Bobcats denied the Red Men on three straight set points that included a pair of kills by Mercado to cut the advantage to 24-18. Hansen then closed out the 25-18 second-frame win to even the match for Carthage.
Carthage continued to dictate the flow of the match in the third set, opening a 12-8 lead on a Hansen service ace. Lees-McRae would respond, cutting the margin to 15-13 with a 5-3 spurt, which was capped by a Mercado kill. The Bobcats stayed within striking distance for the remainder of the set before Schultz closed out the frame with a kill to give Carthage a 2-1 lead in the match.
The fourth set proved to be the most hard-fought of the match, with neither team gaining more than a four-point advantage throughout the frame. After Carthage took an early 8-5 lead on a Wexter kill, the Bobcats rallied to even the score on three separate occasions, including an 11-11 deadlock on a Mercado kill. Carthage answered with a 7-3 run, opening an 18-14 lead before closing out the set and the match with a 7-5 spurt.
Lees-McRae returns to the court later this afternoon when the Bobcats take on Grand Canyon University in their final match of the weekend at 2:30 p.m. ET.
- LMC -