Johnson City, Tenn. (November 4, 2003) - East Tennessee State used a pivotal win in game four as the Buccaneers pulled out a 3-2 victory over visiting Western Carolina Tuesday evening from Brooks Gym. ETSU (7-19, 5-9 SoCon) remains just a half game behind the Catamounts (13-14, 5-8 SoCon) in the North Division standings after the Bucs defeated WCU by scores of 22-30, 30-24, 23-30, 39-37, 15-11.
"We didn't give up when we were down," said ETSU head coach Lindsey Devine. "I've talked all season about building character, and this team dug deep and found some heart tonight."
The ‘Cats led by as many as seven points in game four, 20-13, but ETSU responded by rattling off six consecutive points to make the score 22-20 in favor of Western Carolina. After withstanding 20 ties and 11 different lead changes in game four alone, the Buccaneers prevailed with the 39-37 decision.
Western's Shari Harder finished the night with a triple-double by tallying 10 kills, 20 digs, and 54 assists. Harder also recorded a match-high .444 attack percentage. Ellie Talbot led the Catamounts with 21 digs on the defensive side of the net, while four players registered double digits in kills, led by Heather Koontz (14). Freshman Kellyn Thaut followed closely behind Koontz and ended up with 13 kills in just three games played. Michelle Gorton picked up eight of the team's 15 blocks, as the Catamounts out-blocked their opponent 15-8.
The Buccaneers boasted five players with double digits in kills, led by career-high 20 kills from senior Lissa Allen (Palm Bay, Fla.). Fellow senior Kate Steidle (Waynesboro, Va.) registered 18 kills, followed by Karen Freeburg (New Castle, Ind.), who tallied 14 kills and 23 digs, which gave Freeburg her team-leading seventh double double of the season on top of a match-high four service aces. Kelsey Sherich (Ogallala, Neb.) and Sara Scandiffio (Purcellville, Va.) rounded out the Buc offense with 12 and 11 kills, respectively.
Freshman Natalie Pittenger (Gaston, Ind.) paced the ETSU defense with 30 digs. Sophomore setter Kristi Robinson (Knoxville, Tenn.) put together an impressive performance as well with 15 digs and 71 assists - just one assist shy of the school record. Meanwhile, freshman Andrea Piercy (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) recorded 12 digs.
"Lauren Madzia (London, Ontario) played a key role for us tonight," said Devine. "She entered the match in the fourth game and provided a huge lift for our team. Kate and Lissa continued to be strong offensively, while Kristi continued to spread the ball around. Natalie and Karen picked up the slack on the defensive end - it was a total team effort."
ETSU hits the road for the last time this regular season with matches at Davidson on Nov. 7 and Georgia Southern on Nov. 9. The Buccaneers end at home with a Nov. 14 match versus UNC Greensboro and the season finale will take place on Nov. 15 against Elon.
"Every match from here on out is so important to keep our postseason hopes alive," said Devine. "If we play at the level we played at tonight and play as one team, then we are hopeful that we will be in Chattanooga for the SoCon tournament at the end of the month."