MACON, Ga. (Sept. 18, 2012) – After dropping a tightly contested first set, the ETSU volleyball team couldn’t dig itself out the hole as Mercer swept the Bucs (23-25, 16-25, 17-25) in front of a sellout and raucous crowd Tuesday night inside Hawkins Arena.
Junior Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) just missed a double-double after finishing with a team-leading 12 kills and nine digs, while senior Kayla Williams (El Paso, Texas) added 28 assists, three digs, and two blocks.
The Bucs – who had won six of their first seven Atlantic Sun Conference openers since joining the league in 2005 – dropped to 9-6, 0-1, while Mercer improved to 5-6, 1-0.
Neither team was able to gain any breathing room early in the first set until Mercer went on a 6-1 run to take a 10-7 lead after Katie Muey (Alexandria, Ind.) was charged with a service error. The Bucs answered with a 7-2 spurt of their own to regain a 14-12 advantage, but the Blue and Gold were forced to call a timeout as the Bears scored four consecutive points to pull back ahead, 16-14. The stoppage of play worked for a moment as ETSU scored six of the next eight points to take a two-point lead, 20-18, but the see-saw game continued. Mercer rallied with four straight points to go up, 22-20 – and after the Bucs pulled even at 22 – the Bears closed the set on a 3-1 run to take the opener, 25-23. Both teams were almost identical from a hitting standpoint as ETSU hit .243 (13-4-37), compared to Mercer’s .244 clip (16-5-45). Devine finished with an attack percentage of .571 as she had four of the Bucs’ 13 kills, while Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) recorded two kills on three swings. Overall, the set saw 10 ties and five lead changes before the Bears won by two.
Mercer carried the momentum over into the second set, as the Bears set the tone in the stanza by winning six of the first seven points, leading to ETSU calling an early timeout. The Bucs won the next two points out of the break, but the Bears attacked with three unanswered scores to grab a 9-3 lead. From there, the Blue and Gold won four of the next six points to get within one, 11-10, but Mercer took all the momentum away from the Bucs by closing the frame on a 14-6 run. After committing only four attack errors in the first set, the Bucs finished with nine in the second, while posting eight kills on 31 attempts. Meanwhile, the Bears hit .273 (15-6-33) and were led by Caroline Carlton’s .455 attack percentage (5-0-11).
Play was tight in the beginning of the third, but with the Bears up one (12-11) Mercer won 13 of the final 19 points to cap off the sweep. The Bucs had no answer for freshman Molly Locke during the surge as she slammed home four kills, while Mercer also tallied three service aces. Locke and Carlton combined for nine of Mercer’s 15 kills in the set, while the Blue and Gold only finished with 10 as a team.
For the match, Mercer hit .270 (46-16-111), compared to ETSU’s .141 (31-17-99) showing, while the Bears also had seven of the eight service aces.
Locke finished with a double-double after compiling 15 kills and 13 digs and Monica Sanchez generated the offense with 36 of the Bears’ 44 assists. ETSU ended with 31 assists.
The Bucs return home to take on USC Upstate Friday night at 7 p.m. in Brooks Gym.
For more information on Buccaneer volleyball, visit ETSUBucs.com.