Trojans Survive Erskine Comeback In Five-Set Win

Trojans Survive Erskine Comeback In Five-Set Win

Steven Cruse and Mike Mann combined on a block on match point as University of Mount Olive recovered after seeing a two-set lead disappear for a 25-16, 25-23, 21-25, 24-26, 15-12 victory over Erskine College in Conference Carolinas men's volleyball Saturday at Due West, S.C. Angel Dache led the Trojans with 16 kills, while Josh Donahue matched a career high and came within one dig of tying a school record with 20 digs. The win was Mount Olive's fifth in its last six matches as the Trojans handed the Flying Fleet their first conference loss this season.

Mount Olive (6-7 overall, 5-3 Conference Carolinas) never trailed in the fifth set, but had to withstand five ties before pulling away. Dache's kill broke a 10-10 tie to put the Trojans ahead to stay. Mount Olive extended the lead to 14-11 as kills by Cruse and Garrett Dimm followed a block by Cruse and Mann. Erskine saved one match point before Cruse and Mann sealed the win with another block.

The Trojans recorded a season-high 13 blocks in Saturday's match. Mann, playing in only his third match as a Trojan, led all players with seven blocks, while Cruse added four blocks and a career-high 12 digs. Mount Olive's 59 digs were also a season-high.

Mount Olive held a 14-12 lead in the opening set, but scored 11 of the final 15 points to win the set. Cruse and Mann each served an ace and the Trojans scored three of their final five points on Erskine attack errors.

The Trojans trailed 20-16 in the second set before Dache's kill triggered a frantic rally. Another kill by Dache tied the set at 22-22 and Mount Olive went on top after another Erskine attack error. The Flying Fleet saved one set point on a block by Omar Melendez and Roberto Perez Vargas, but Dache recorded his third kill of Mount Olive's set-ending 9-3 run to give the Trojans a two-set advantage.

Erskine (4-5, 4-1) scored five of the first six points in the third set and Vargas had three kills over a span of seven combined points as the Flying Fleet built a 20-12 lead. Sawyer Frederick had a kill and a block in a four-point Trojan run and Mount Olive saved a set point to pull within 24-21. But Vargas recorded his sixth kill of the set to keep Erskine in the match. Michael Michelau added eight kills as he and Vargas combined for 14 of the Flying Fleet's 21 kills in the set.

Mount Olive trailed by as many as five points in the fourth set before two kills and an ace by Dimm highlighted a 9-2 run that gave the Trojans a 19-17 lead. Three kills by Vargas helped Erskine rally to take a 24-23 lead, but Lewis Einarson's kill saved a set point. Michelau put the Flying Fleet back on top with a kill and Vargas' kill forced a deciding fifth set.

Saturday's win, along with Friday's win at Limestone, gave the Trojans victories over the first and second-place teams in the conference in a span of less than 24 hours. Mount Olive also evened the regular season series against Erskine and Limestone after falling to both teams at home in January.

Dache was the only Trojan to reach double figures in kills. Dimm finished with nine kills and Einarson added seven kills. Tyler Yanez recorded 27 assists, while Quaid Marin had 14 assists. For the second time during his freshman season, Donahue came within one dig of tying Kris Suarez's eight-year-old school record of 21 digs in a match. Donahue did tie his own school record for most digs in a Conference Carolinas match.

Michelau led all players with 25 kills, while Vargas added 18 kills for Erskine. Corey Marks registered 55 assists and shared match-high honors with 20 digs.

Mount Olive returns to action Tuesday for its fourth consecutive Conference Carolinas road match as the Trojans travel to Belmont, N.C., to take on Belmont Abbey. Match time is 7 p.m.