In 2011, University of Mount Olive swept King University during the regular season and built a two-set lead in the first round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament before falling in five sets. Tuesday evening, the Trojans nearly gave the Tornado a taste of deja vu.
North Division No. 5 seed Mount Olive won the third set and built a six-point lead in the fourth set before falling to North Division No. 1 seed King 25-9, 25-14, 17-25, 25-23 in the first round of the 2015 Conference Carolinas Women's Volleyball Tournament Tuesday at Bristol, Tenn. Alysha Burnett finished with seven kills and two blocks, while Sarah Watkins had five of her six kills and three of her five blocks in the final two sets.
After dropping the first two sets, Mount Olive (4-23) jumped out to a 12-6 lead in the third set as Burnett served an ace, while Watkins combined with Mackenzie Call for a pair of blocks. King (19-12) got as close as four points, but a kill by Watkins and an ace by Burnett pushed the lead to 20-14. Britni Johnson's kill on set point sent the contest to a fourth set and kept the Trojans' season alive.
"We didn't come out very strong tonight," said Trojan head coach Colby Mangum. "We switched the lineup around, put some players in uncomfortable positions and they made it work. They worked especially hard and hustled on defense."
The Trojans got off to another fast start in the fourth set, building a 10-4 advantage. Marissa Turnage served an ace, while Watkins recorded a pair of kills and again combined with Call for a block.
Mount Olive led 16-12 after a kill by Danielle Plante before King used a pair of kills by Sarah Collins in a 4-0 run to tie the set. A Tornado service error and a solo block by Watkins gave the Trojans a two-point lead but back-to-back kills by Grace Underwood capped a 4-0 run and put King on top 20-18.
Kills by Plante and Watkins tied the set 20-20, but King scored the next two points and led the rest of the way. After King built a 24-22 lead, Morgan Morrissette's kill saved a match point for Mount Olive, but Lauren Willoughby answered with a kill for King to send the Tornado to the semifinal round and end the Trojans' season.
Underwood led all players with 15 kills for King, while Amy Serowski added match highs of four aces and 17 digs.
Mount Olive's three seniors all contributed in their final career match. Nicole Karas recorded 14 assists and eight digs, while Danielle Plante tallied five kills and a block and Morgan Morrissette finished with two kills.
"I'm really proud of the seniors tonight," said Mangum. "They did a great job of communicating and showed great leadership."