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The App State volleyball team closed out competition at the ECU Tournament with a thrilling five-set victory over East Carolina, 3-2 (25-23, 18-25, 19-25, 27-25, 15-13). The Mountaineers are now 6-0 on the season following competition at the Mountaineer Classic (Aug. 25-26) and ECU Tournament (Sept. 1-2).
“I am so proud of the grit, confidence, and hunger we played with,” said head coach Sarah Rumely Noble. “Winning with two five-setters this weekend was huge development as a team. We executed when it mattered and fought hard. I love coaching this team.”
Junior Lulu Ambrose, sophomore Maya Winterhoff, and fifth-year senior McCall Denny earned spots on the ECU All-Tournament team for their efforts on the court this season. Ambrose recorded 35 kills over the weekend as well as five blocks and six digs. Winterhoff recorded a hitting percentage of .490 over the three matches and totaled 28 kills, 17 blocks (one solo, 16 assists), seven digs, and one ace. Denny made 38 kills and 38 digs over the weekend, recording two double-doubles on the weekend. She also made eight blocks and served up three aces.
App State 3, East Carolina 2
Ambrose led the team in kills with 13, including the match-winning kill. Denny notched 12 kills and matched her career high 19 digs for her second double-double of the season. Denny split the team high digs with sophomore Kenady Roper. Sophomores Alyssa McBean and Roper each had two aces on the afternoon while senior Sophie Cain and redshirt freshman both recorded double-digit assists with 26 and 25, respectively.
App State and East Carolina shared a tight team comparison, with App State holding an edge in the kills (58-57), assists (54-50), and digs (85-83) categories. The teams each served up six aces over the duration of the match.
App State jumped to an 8-5 lead in the first set with a 5-0 scoring run that included kills from Winterhoff, freshman Ava Leahy, Ambrose, and an ace from Winterhoff. As ECU struggled to keep up, App State extended their lead to 23-15 after kills from Denny and freshman Delanie Grevengoed. The Pirates caught up to the Mountaineers at 24-23, but a kill from Winterhoff secured the set for App State, 25-23.
The Mountaineers started off the second set strong with an 8-4 lead, but ECU managed to make up ground, meeting the Mountaineers at 8-8 all. Matching point-for-point, the Pirates managed to break away with a 4-0 run and a 5-0 run to lead 24-17. Junior Lauren Pledger managed a last kill before ECU took the set, 25-18.
App State and East Carolina fought through a tight third set, not allowing more than a four-point lead for either team early. Leahy slammed down a kill to put App State ahead 11-8, but ECU posted seven consecutive points for a 15-12 lead. The Black and Gold steadily chipped away at the lead until ECU took the set 25-19.
With ECU leading the match two sets to one, App State came out determined in the fourth, building a 5-2 lead off kills from Winterhoff and Ambrose, in addition to an ace from McBean. The Mountaineers jumped ahead 15-10, but ECU was quick to close the deficit. An ECU attack error brought App State to set point, but ECU mustered two points to tie the score at 24 all. A kill from Ambrose gave App State a 25-24 edge before the Pirates matched the score at 25 all. With a kill, Denny clinched the fourth set for the Mountaineers, 27-25.
In the fifth and final set, App State jumped ahead 8-5 early. ECU went on a 4-0 scoring run to take a 9-8 lead, but the Mountaineers battled point-for-point to regain an 11-10 edge. Kills from Leahy and Ambrose brought App State to set and match point. ECU managed two more points to cut the Mountaineers’ lead to 14-13, but a kill from Ambrose sealed the set (15-13) and the match (3-2) for the Black & Gold’s sixth-straight win of the season.
App State will host the Black & Gold Invitational on Sept. 7-9. The Mountaineers will kick things off with a 6 p.m. match against North Carolina A&T on Sept. 7. App State will take on USC-Upstate at 11 a.m. on Sept. 8 for Education Day, before returning to the court for the tournament finale against UNC Greensboro at 2 p.m. on Sept. 9.
ECU Tournament All-Tournament Team
Lulu Ambrose, App State
McCall Denny, App State
Maya Winterhoff, App State
Angeles Alderete, East Carolina
Carlia Northcross, East Carolina
Aley Clent, Campbell
Malina Spencer, Bethune-Cookman