Bobcats sweep Tornado in conference play

Box score

BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Chad Mercado (Orlando, Fla.) tallied a match-high 16 kills to lead the Lees-McRae College men's volleyball team to a straight-set sweep of King College (Tenn.) on Tuesday night in Conference Carolinas play.

Lees-McRae (5-6, 1-1 CC) defeated King (4-4, 1-2 CC) by scores of 25-18, 25-18, and 25-18 en route to its first conference victory of the season. The Bobcats posted a sterling .361 hitting percentage on the night, including a blistering .522 clip in the second set, while recording seven blocks and holding King to a .079 percentage on the attack.

Mercado posted double-digit kills for the 11th time this season, recording 16 kills, four errors, and a .522 hitting percentage on 23 swings. Randy Ramirez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) tallied a match-high 35 assists, as John Lucas (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Matt Harpenau (Cincinnati, Ohio) each posted a contest-best three blocks. Lucas and Chris Flood (Louisville, Ky.) recorded seven and six kills, respectively, as freshman libero Efrain Negron (Orlando, Fla.) notched a match-high six digs.

Alex Oliveria (Goiania, Brazil) paced the Tornado with six kills on eight swings, while James Friddle (Cartersville, Ga.) chipped in five kills. Jeff Bosslett (St. Louis, Mo.) notched 21 assists for King as Friddle posted a team-high three blocks.

Neither team gained a significant advantage in the first set until, Lees-McRae holding a narrow 8-7 lead, the Bobcats launched a 9-2 run to take a 17-9 lead on a Flood service ace. King fought back, cutting the lead to 19-14 with a 5-2 spurt before the Bobcats closed out the set with a 6-4 run.

Lees-McRae carried the momentum into the second set, opening an early 5-0 lead after a trio of Flood kills. The Bobcats would hold the advantage for the remainder of the set, taking a 16-9 lead on a Mercado kill before closing out the frame on a pair of kills from the senior opposite.

King stayed within striking distance early in the third set, evening the score at 8-8 on a kill by Stephen Brown (Lawrenceville, Ga.) before the Bobcats responded, launching a 7-1 run to open a 15-9 advantage following a kill by Sam Sheers (Centerville, Ohio). The Tornado fought back once again, cutting the margin to 17-15 on a Bobcat service error before Lees-McRae regained control, closing out the win with an 8-3 run which was capped by a Mercado kill.

Lees-McRae returns to the court on Wednesday, Feb. 16 when the Bobcats travel to Gaffney, S.C. to take on Limestone College to continue their conference schedule. First serve is slated for 7 p.m.

- LMC -