BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Seniors Chad Mercado (Orlando, Fla.) and Juan Ramirez (Miami, Fla.) posted match-highs of nine kills and digs, respectively, to celebrate their senior day and lead the Lees-McRae College men's volleyball team to a straight-set sweep of Pfeiffer University in Conference Carolinas play on Saturday afternoon.
Lees-McRae (14-7, 4-1 CC) extended its winning streak to five matches, moving into a tie for first place in the conference standings, earning the victory by scores of 25-16, 25-20, and 25-22. The Bobcats posted seven blocks and six service aces on the day, while holding Pfeiffer (8-7, 0-3 CC) to a .198 clip on the attack.
Mercado tallied a match-high nine kills to move within 10 smashes of the 1,000-kill mark for his career, as Chris Flood (Louisville, Ky.) and Matt Harpenau (Cincinnati, Ohio) chipped in eight and seven kills, respectively. Randy Ramirez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) added a match-high 33 assists, while Juan Ramirez chipped in a contest-best nine digs. Flood and Harpenau each tallied a match-high three blocks for Lees-McRae.
Eric Edelman (Henrietta, N.Y.) and Drew Burdette (Greer, S.C.) paced the Falcons with eight and seven kills, respectively, while Evan Fullerton (Ambridge, Pa.) posted a team-high 23 assists. Edelman, Fullerton, and Lance Johnson (Harrisburg, Pa.) each tallied a match-high three blocks, as Mark Hess (Lebanon, Pa.) paced Pfeiffer with six digs.
Lees-McRae started off strong, opening an early 9-2 lead in the first set following a service ace by John Lucas (Cincinnati, Ohio). After Pfeiffer cut the margin to 12-7 with a 5-3 spurt, The Bobcats launched a 9-5 run to push the lead to 21-12 on a block by Harpenau and Eduardo Gonzales (San Juan, Puerto Rico). Gonzales then capped the set with an emphatic kill to give LMC the 25-16 first-frame victory.
The Bobcats carried the momentum into the second set, claiming a 14-9 lead on a Flood smash. Pfeiffer answered with a 10-8 run, cutting the margin to 22-19 on an Edelman kill before the Bobcats closed out the set with a 3-1 spurt that was capped by an Edmund Walkley (Glenbrook, Australia) kill.
Pfeiffer battled throughout the third set, staying within striking distance and cutting the lead to 22-21 late in the frame on three straight blocks from Edelman. A well-timed timeout by the Bobcats quelled the rally, as Lees-McRae closed out the set and the match with a 3-1 spurt that was capped by Mercado's ninth kill of the afternoon to wrap up the 25-22 third-frame victory.
Lees-McRae returns to the court on Friday, Mar. 25 when the Bobcats travel to Fairfax, Va. to take on George Mason University at 7 p.m.
- LMC -