Trojans rally past Bobcats in five-set thriller

Box score

MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. --- The Mount Olive College men's volleyball team rallied from a two-sets-to-none deficit, and a 17-10 disadvantage in the third frame to claim a five-set victory over Lees-McRae College in Conference Carolinas play on Saturday afternoon.

Mount Olive (7-12, 4-2 CC) won the match by scores of 22-25, 30-32, 25-22, 25-18, and 15-11, posting a hitting percentage of .294 while limiting Lees-McRae (6-6, 3-2 CC) to a .197 clip on the attack. The Trojans recorded 15.5 blocks on the afternoon, while posting 66 kills and 44 digs. The Bobcats tallied 11 blocks of their own in the contest to go along with 65 kills and 33 digs.

Jose Ribas (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) and John Lucas (Cincinnati, Ohio) paced the Bobcats with 15 kills each, as Joshua Jones (Christmas, Fla.) and Matt Harpenau (Cincinnati, Ohio) both added 11 smashes. Randy Ramirez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) chipped in 51 assists and six kills, as Jones posted five blocks. Ribas, Lucas, and Harpenau each added four blocks, as Lucas and Efrain Negron (Caguas, Puerto Rico) chipped in eight and six digs, respectively.

Adam Miracle led the way for Mount Olive with a match-high 28 kills, as Alex Rivero added 11 smashes. Jack Tutty and Lukas Hoelzl chipped in 10 kills each, while Jackson Metichehhia posted a double-double with 63 assists and 11 digs. Dan Arnold and Tim Ebbecke added match-highs of 12 digs and nine blocks, respectively.

The first set proved to be a tightly contested affair, with neither team taking more than a three-point advantage until Lees-McRae launched an 8-4 run with the score knotted at 16-16, claiming a 24-20 lead before closing out the set on a Ribas kill.

Lees-McRae would open the second set with a 12-9 run before Mount Olive responded, putting together a 9-4 spurt to open a narrow 18-16 lead on a kill by Rivero. After the Bobcats countered with a 5-1 spurt to claim a narrow 21-19 advantage, Mount Olive rallied to force set point at 24-23 on a Miracle kill. The Bobcats would fight off six set points down the stretch, taking the frame on a Trojan miscue after Ribas forced set point with a kill.

The Bobcats carried the momentum into the third set, opening a 17-10 lead on a service ace by Ramirez before the Trojans responded, launching a 9-4 run to trim the margin to 21-20 on back-to-back kills from Miracle. After Ribas stopped the run with a kill to give the Bobcats a 22-20 lead, Mount Olive took advantage of a Miracle kill and four straight Bobcat miscues to take the set, 25-22, and halve the match margin to 2-1.

Lees-McRae answered in the early moments of the fourth set, taking an 11-8 lead on a service ace by Chris Flood (Louisville, Ky.) before the Trojans countered with a 9-2 run, claiming a 17-13 advantage on back-to-back miscues by the Bobcats. The Trojans would close out the set with an 8-5 spurt over the balance of the frame, evening the match on back-to-back kills by Miracle.

Mount Olive carried its strong play into the fifth set, taking an early 9-6 advantage on a service ace by Tutty. After the Bobcats trimmed the margin to 10-8 on a kill by Edmund Walkley (Glenbrook, Australia) and the Trojans answered with three straight points, Lees-McRae countered with a 3-0 spurt to cut the advantage to 13-11 following a Jones smash. Mount Olive would respond with back-to-back points, closing out the set and the match on kills by Miracle and Hoelzl.

Lees-McRae returns to the court on Tuesday when the Bobcats host Sacred Heart University in a non-conference match at 7 p.m. in Williams Gymnasium.

- LMC -