BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Lees-McRae senior duo of Matt Harpenau (14) and Randy Ramirez (12) registered double-digit kills, but LMC fell in a close battle with Limestone, 21-25, 22-25, 24-26, in Conference Carolinas action Friday night at Williams Gymnasium in Banner Elk, N.C.
The Saints (16-11, 8-6 CC) operated efficiently on the offense, hitting at a .319 clip, including .524 in the third set. The Bobcats (12-14, 4-9) clinched a postseason berth despite the loss after Erskine defeated King. LMC will play at either Mount Olive or Pfeiffer on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
LC led wire-to-wire in the opener and led by as many as seven. Harpenau (Cincinnati, Ohio) shaved the deficit to three before Sam Sheers (Centerville, Ohio) popped off for three kills in a short span to make it 20-18.
Drew Blecher (York, Pa.) made the most of his start with a match-high 35 assists, including one to Ramirez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico), who made it 21-20.
The Saints clamped down and finished the set on a 4-1 run to earn the set.
Ramirez jumpstarted a 10-5 run with consecutive service aces while LMC led 16-10 in the second.
LC retaliated with a 7-1 run following a quartet of LMC attack errors to tie it, 17.
Sophomore Brady Markle (York, Pa.) smashed home consecutive kills to knot it up at 19.
Despite two kills and block assist from Harpenau, the Saints would claim the set after an Andrew Miller kill.
Miller was one of four Saints with at least five kills on the night. He led the team with six block assists.
Sheers and Harpenau connected on a kill each before a Blecher ace gave LMC its largest lead of the set, 12-7.
LC responded with a 12-6, capped off by a block from Curtis Van Grinsven and Nick Wildes, to take a 19-18 lead.
Senior Kevin Morrison (Norfolk, Va.) and Ramirez delivered a trio of kills to put LMC up 23-21.
The Saints' Jon Schaefer tied it at 24 with a kill. He led the team with 10 kills.
LC snuck out the win following a LMC attack error.
Sheers and Efrain Negron (Caguas, Puerto Rico) paced both squads in digs with nine and eight, respectively.
LMC concludes its regular season with a bout against CC-leading Erskine at noon Saturday. Negron, Morrison, Sheers, John Lucas (Cincinnati, Ohio), Josh Cothron (Bradenton, Fla.) and Ramirez will be honored prior to the game for Senior Day.
- LMC -