Women’s Volleyball Season Ends In Five-Set Heartbreaker

Mount Olive fought off one match point and got a chance to serve for the match, but the Trojans fell to King 22-25, 16-25, 25-15, 25-19, 17-15 in the first round of the 2011 Conference Carolinas Women's Volleyball Tournament Tuesday at Kornegay Arena. Carly White shared match-high honors with 17 kills for Mount Olive, while Erika Conner added 16 kills and Dezirae Mackey finished with 13 kills.

Mount Olive finishes the season with a record of 16-14. After starting the season 5-10 overall and 1-6 in conference play, the Trojans ended the year by winning 11 of their final 15 matches, including eight of their last 10 in conference play.

This year marked the first time divisional play was used in the conference. Mount Olive was the East Division No. 2 seed, while King (23-12) was the West Division No. 3 seed.

Ashley Pittman had 17 kills for King, which advances to the tournament semifinals in its first year in the conference. Sarah Van Goethem added 16 kills and 11 digs for the Tornado.

Neither team led by more than a point in the final set until consecutive kills by White and Mackey gave the Trojans a 6-4 advantage. The set was tied 11-11 when White provided the next two points with a kill and an ace to put Mount Olive two points away from advancing to the semifinals. But after a King timeout, Pittman responded with three consecutive kills to give the Tornado their first match point at 14-13.

After using its final timeout of the set, Mount Olive stayed alive on Nicole Powell's cross-court kill from the right side. A King attack error off of Powell's serve gave the Trojans a match point. But after King used its last timeout, Pittman came through with another kill to extend the match. Jessica Hammond followed with an ace and the match ended when a Trojan attack attempt went wide of the left sideline.

The Trojans took the first two sets of the match, staving off comebacks in the first set and coming from behind in the second set. Mount Olive built leads of 9-4 and 19-15 in the first set, but it took back-to-back kills by Conner to break a 20-20 tie. Mackey's kill on set point gave Mount Olive a one-set lead.

Mount Olive trailed 13-10 in the second set before aces by White and Powell highlighted an 8-1 run that put the Trojans ahead to stay. Sarah Robertson had three kills in the final five points as Mount Olive outscored the Tornado 15-3 to end the set.

King took control early in the third set as Van Goethem's kill and ace on consecutive points broke a 4-4 tie and triggered a 7-0 run. Mount Olive got as close as 18-15, but after a Trojan service error, Van Goethem served out the set to keep the Tornado in the match.

The fourth set saw 11 ties and four lead changes before Conner's kill helped Mount Olive take its first two-point lead of the set at 18-16. But King took advantage of eight Trojan attack errors during a set-ending 9-1 run to even the match at two sets apiece.

Mount Olive had swept King in three sets just 11 days earlier at Kornegay Arena in the two teams' lone regular season meeting. The Tornado did not record any blocks in that match, but finished with six team blocks in Tuesday's match. Four of the blocks came after the third set.

Charnel Austin finished with 48 assists and eight digs for Mount Olive, while Lauren Lee matched a career high with 19 digs. White served three aces, while Powell and Nicole Sparks each had two aces. Trojan senior Destiny Ma'ave-Kuewa recorded five digs in her final collegiate match.

Shannon Earwood recorded 46 assists for King, while Kelsey Griffits and Kirsten Hamel tallied nine kills apiece. Hamel also had a match-high four blocks. Natalie Brown served three aces for the Tornado.

Despite Tuesday's loss, Mount Olive finished the season above .500 for the first time since 2008.