Trojans Open 2016 Season With Three-Set Win Over Division I Saint Francis (Pa.)

Trojans Open 2016 Season With Three-Set Win Over Division I Saint Francis (Pa.)

Robert Poole recorded a career-high 18 kills and Peyton Schirman added 15 kills as University of Mount Olive opened its 2016 season with a 25-20, 25-21, 25-21 victory over Saint Francis University (Pa.) in non-conference men's volleyball Friday at Kornegay Arena. The win the fourth over a Division I opponent in UMO men's volleyball history and first-ever three-set win over a Division I opponent.

"This was one of the games I've ever been a part of at this University," said Poole, a 6-8 sophomore opposite from Enfield, England. "Every player was so much in it and we played so much as a team."

In the opening set, Poole's kill broke a 3-3 tie and Mount Olive (1-0) led the remainder of the set. An ace by Poole and a kill by Schirman extended the lead to 12-7. Mount Olive took its biggest lead of the set at 19-13 after an ace by Hugo van Garderen. Saint Francis got as close as 23-20, but the Trojans closed out the set on a kill by Schirman and a Red Flash attack error.

Saint Francis (0-1) vaulted out to an 8-3 lead in the second set as Stephen Braswell accounted for four points with two kills, an ace and a block for the Red Flash. A pair of blocks by Mike Mann helped Mount Olive draw within a single point.

After the Red Flash extended the lead to three, Schirman recorded three kills and a block during a 6-0 run that put the Trojans ahead to stay 19-16. Two of Schirman's kills were set up by acrobatic digs by Ivan Trifunovic that prevented apparent Saint Francis kills. Trifunovic had an improbable kill on set point after recovering from an attack attempt that he dug from just in front of the net as the Trojans built a two-set lead.

A pair of kills by Schirman and a pair of blocks by Trifunovic helped stake Mount Olive to a 6-2 advantage in the third set. Saint Francis rallied to tie the set 12-12 on a kill second-ball kill by setter Daniel Ford, but Mount Olive earned a side out on a Red Flash service error and the Trojans led the rest of the way.

Back-to-back kills by Poole gave Mount Olive its biggest lead at 24-19 and after Saint Francis saved a pair of match points, Poole's kill from the right side off the Red Flash back row sealed the victory.

The win was Mount Olive's second straight over Saint Francis at Kornegay Arena. The Trojans defeated the Red Flash in five sets during the 2012 season. Mount Olive also posted a pair of four-set wins over Harvard in 2008.

Poole and Schirman combined for 33 of Mount Olive's 43 kills to help the Trojans' post a .418 hitting percentage with only 10 errors in 79 attempts. Trifunovic led all players with five blocks, while Mann and Jeff Yasalonis added four blocks apiece. Yasalonis also recorded match highs of 38 assists and seven digs for the Trojans.

Saint Francis was led by Brandon Buck with nine kills.

Mount Olive is idle until next weekend when the Trojans play host to a pair of Conference Carolinas matches at Kornegay Arena. The Trojans take on Limestone Friday at 7 p.m., then entertain Erskine Saturday at 2 p.m.