MACON, Ga. (Nov. 20, 2008) - The fifth seeded ETSU volleyball team held on to defeat fourth seed and tournament host Mercer Thursday night in the Atlantic Sun Championships at the University Center in Macon, Ga., 3-2 (16-25, 25-16, 25-20, 20-25, 15-13). The win marks the first ever A-Sun tournament victory for the program and the first tournament win under head coach Lindsey Devine.
"I think the team showed a lot of heart and composure," Devine said. "We put pressure on Mercer when we needed to in the match. The whole team believed and we were able to push through."
Coming off of an A-Sun All-Freshman team selection, McKayla Barber (Columbus, Ind.) played big in the match leading the way for the Bucs (12-19, 7-13 A-Sun) with 15 kills and hit an impressive .520 clip (15-2-25). Desiree Dyck (Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan) and Jamie Stancliff (Advance, N.C.) also had double-digit kills for ETSU as Dyck had 12 kills, while Stancliff had ten.
"McKayla came in and changed the game for us," Devine said. "She was able to make them cover the middle because of the way she was playing, which opened up the outsides for our other girls."
Junior Amanda Youell (Middleburg, Fla.) picked up her fourth double-double of the season for the Bucs tallying 40 assists and 13 digs. Whitney Cogburn (Kingsport, Tenn.) also put up good numbers collecting nine kills, seven assists, eight digs and three service aces, while freshman Jen Neice (Allen, Texas) led ETSU in the back with 30 digs.
"Amanda wants it so bad for the team and the program," Devine added. "She continues to fly under the radar this season. I think that her teammates will continue to look to her, and that will fire her up as it has all season."
Mercer came out strong in the first set taking a 12-2 lead after a ten-point run. The Bucs were able to cut the Bears lead to 20-15 after taking six straight points, but Mercer went on a 5-1 run to take the first set on a Krista Hurley kill, 25-16.
In the second set, the Bears again jumped out in front taking a 6-4 lead, but ETSU went on a 8-1 run led by Barber to take a 12-7 lead. The Bucs increased their lead to 20-12 after a 7-2 run. Mercer then tried to claw its way back into the set taking four of the next six points, but ETSU got the last three points of the set to make the score 25-16, and tie the match at 1-all going into the break.
The Bucs got behind 7-4 early in the third set, but chipped away at the Bears lead to tie things at 12-all. Mercer went ahead 13-12 on the next point, but then ETSU took command of the set going on a 9-2 run to go ahead 21-15. The Bucs kept the Bears from making a comeback as they ended the set on a Cogburn kill to make the score 25-20.
The Bears started quick in the fourth set jumping out to a 7-3 lead. Mercer extended its advantage to 16-10, but the Bucs rallied to cut the lead to 16-14. The Bears answered with a 7-3 run to go in front 23-17, and held on to take the set, 25-20.
In the deciding set, after ETSU went up 3-1, Mercer won four straight to take a 5-3 lead. The Bucs then won the next six points to go back in front, 9-5. The Bears rallied back to tie the match, 12-12, after a 7-3 run. Both teams then exchanged points to make the score 13-all. ETSU went up 14-13 on a Libby Hansch attack error, and Cogburn put the match away on a huge kill to make the final 15-13.
"We knew coming in that it would take three games to get to the NCAA tournament," Devine said. "Lipscomb is a good team, but we have been putting it together lately. We are starting to play at the level I knew these girls were capable of since the beginning of the season."
The Bucs are back in action tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. as they will take on top seeded Lipscomb in the semifinals of the A-Sun tournament in Macon, Ga. The can be seen live on A-Sun.TV. Please visit www.ETSUBucs.com for more information on ETSU volleyball and all other Buccaneer athletic news.