Steven Cruse, one of four seniors honored during pre-match ceremonies, notched his second double-double of the season with 16 kills and 12 digs as University of Mount Olive defeated Belmont Abbey College 27-25, 25-13, 25-20 in Conference Carolinas men's volleyball Saturday at Kornegay Arena. The win was Mount Olive's seventh in a row in conference play and moved the Trojans to within percentage points of the lead in the conference standings.
Cruse was joined by Angel Dache, Renzo Rossato and Bastian Steppin for Senior Day festivities. In addition, assistant men's volleyball coach/head women's volleyball coach was recognized prior to the match. Lusk accepted a position as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the volleyball program at Army. Saturday's match was her last with Mount Olive.
Mount Olive (13-10 overall, 10-3 led by as many as five points in the first set as a pair of second-ball kills by setter Quaid Marin gave the Trojans a 15-10 lead. Belmont Abbey (3-24, 1-12) chipped away at the margin and tied the set 22-22. Angel Dache was part of blocks on the next two points to put the Trojans at set point.
Evan Young's kill saved one set point for Belmont Abbey and the Crusaders tied the set after a Trojan attack error. After the two teams traded side outs, a Belmont Abbey service error gave Mount Olive another opportunity to serve for the set. Dache served Mount Olive's first ace of the match to give the Trojans the opening set.
In the second set, Cruse and Lewis Einarson both served back-to-back aces and Mount Olive served six aces on its way to an 11-4 lead. Cruse added one more ace and Dache's kill put the margin at double figures for the first time at 19-9. Rossato's kill on set point gave the Trojans a two-set lead.
Mount Olive broke away from a 16-16 tie in the third set a pair of kills by Cruise and consecutive blocks involving Alex Palmatier highlighted a 7-2 run to give the Trojans a 23-18 lead. Cruse put home his final kill from the right side to seal the win.
Cruse led all players with four aces and recorded a .448 hitting percentage with only three errors in 29 attempts. Einarson finished with 10 kills and no errors in 15 attempts. Dache finished with four blocks, while Einarson, Marin and Palmatier each finished with three blocks. Marin fiinishe with four kills and 38 assists.
Brennan Beyner led Belmont Abbey with six kills, while Young and Kimbrell each added five kills.
Mount Olive concludes regular season play Wednesday as the Trojans travel up I-795 to Wilson, N.C., to take on Barton. Match time is 7 p.m.