University of Mount Olive overcame a two-set deficit and saved four consecutive match points in the fifth set as the Trojans used a match-ending 6-0 run for an improbable 20-25, 26-28, 25-15, 25-19, 16-14 victory over Limestone College in Conference Carolinas men's volleyball Friday at Kornegay Arena. Andrew Sydow broke a Trojan school record with 12 blocks and served the final five points of the match, including an ace to save a match point.
Mount Olive (6-5 overall, 6-3 Conference Carolinas) fell behind 8-1 in the fifth set before starting its comeback. Sydow's record-breaking block capped a 6-2 run to pull the Trojans with 10-7. Mount Olive cut Limestone's lead to 11-9 on an ace by Robert Poole and was still within two points after the two teams traded side outs.
Limestone (8-8, 6-3) put itself on the verge of winning after a Trojan service error and Joel McGuire's kill gave the Saints a 14-10 lead and match point. Mount Olive called timeout and the momentum swung in the Trojans' direction.
Peyton Schirman, who was seeing his first action since missing the past two weeks with an injury, recorded a kill to save the first match point and turn the serve over to Sydow. Nate Saksa's attack from the middle landed wide, but a touch was called at the net and the Trojans stayed alive.
Poole recorded a kill to pull Mount Olive within a point and Sydow followed with an ace on a short service to tie the set 14-14. Tyler Yanez and Saksa combined on a block on the left side to give Mount Olive its first match point and Yanez sealed the win, blocking back an attack straight down on the left side.
After dropping the first two sets, Mount Olive used three blocks by Sydow – two with Poole and one with Yanez – during an 8-2 run in the third set to take the lead for good 10-6. Limestone never got closer than three points and the Trojans ended the set on a 5-0 run to win by double digits and stay in the match.
After being held without a block in the opening set, Sydow recorded a combined 11 blocks in the second and third sets to tie a four-year-old school record. Breaking the blocks record was the last thing on Sydow's mind.
"I had no idea I had the record," said Sydow. "I can't take the credit. The credit goes to my teammates for making plays and keeping the whole team positive and motivated."
Limestone hit away from Sydow in the fourth set and the Saints got a pair of blocks of their own from the tandem of Joel Muhlback and Nick Wildes to build a 13-8 lead. Alex Palmatier recorded a pair of blocks for Mount Olive and Schirman served a pair of aces during a 5-0 run as the Trojans tied the set.
Kian Hollevoet recorded kills on back-to-back points to break a 17-17 tie, but Limestone tied the set 19-19 on a Trojan attack error and a kill by McGuire. That would be the Saints' final point as Mount Olive scored the last six points of the set. Sydow recorded the tie-breaking kill, Hollevoet served a pair of aces and Sydow had a kill on set point to even the match at two sets apiece and force a fifth set.
In the opening set, Limestone never trailed and the Saints built a 16-9 lead after a block by Muhlbach and Wildes. Mount Olive pulled within 20-18 after a kill by Poole, but Bruno Kretzschmar had back-to-back kills to help the Saints win five of the final seven points and take the first set.
Limestone jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the second set before Sydow scored all the points – four blocks and a kill- in a five-point Trojan run to tie the set. Limestone saved a pair of set points and back-to-back Mount Olive attack errors gave the Saints a two-set advantage.
Sydow's blocking performance helped Mount Olive set a team single-match record with 19.5 blocks, breaking the previous record of 18 blocks set in 2010 against King and matched in 2011 against Hunter. Yanez finished with six blocks, while Palmatier and Poole added five blocks apiece.
Poole and Schirman led Mount Olive offensively with 13 kills apiece, while Sydow came within one kill of his first collegiate double-double. Schirman served five of the Trojans' nine aces. Yanez recorded 51 assists and Josh Donahue had 12 digs.
McGuire led all players with 15 kills for Limestone. The Saints recorded 16.0 team blocks as Muhlbach matched Sydow with 12 blocks. Both Sydow and Muhlback had one solo block and 11 block assists. McGuire added 11 digs to record a double-double, as did Juan Ruiz Goyco with 13 kills and a match-high 13 digs. Wildes finished with 47 assists.
Mount Olive concludes its weekend homestand Saturday as the Trojans play host to Pfeiffer in a Conference Carolinas match-up at Kornegay Arena. Special start time is 5 p.m. due the Trojans' women's basketball game against Converse earlier in the afternoon.