BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Reigning AVCA National Player of the Week Chad Mercado (Orlando, Fla.) posted 38 kills and a .304 hitting percentage to lead the Lees-McRae College men's volleyball team to a pair of victories over Limestone College and Philadelphia Biblical University on Monday night to extend the Bobcats' winning streak to five matches.
Lees-McRae (13-7, 3-1 Conference Carolinas) edged Limestone (10-7, 1-4 CC) in a five-set thriller, winning the match by scores of 25-16, 19-25, 25-22, 19-25, and 15-13, before sweeping Philadelphia Biblical (20-7) by scores of 25-21, 25-13, and 25-18. The Bobcats posted a combined hitting percentage of .281 on the night, including a .360 clip against the Crimson Eagles, while tallying 15 total blocks.
Match One: Lees-McRae 3, Limestone 2 (25-16, 19-25, 25-22, 19-25, 15-13) - (Box Score)
Mercado opened the evening with 25 kills against the Saints, while fellow senior Juan Ramirez (Miami, Fla.) posted 44 assists. Matt Harpenau (Cincinnati, Ohio) added 11 kills and four blocks, while Edmund Walkley (Glenbrook, Australia) chipped in nine kills. Mercado and libero Efrain Negron (Orlando, Fla.) each tallied nine digs, as Mercado equaled Harpenau's total of four blocks.
Scott Schweihofer (Marysville, Mich.) paced the Saints with 16 kills on 31 swings, as Kevin Hart (Menifee, Calif.) added 14 kills and Derek Daley (Reading, Pa.) posted a match-high seven blocks. Josh Slone (Lafayette, Colo.) and Danny Gruszczyk (Orlando, Fla.) chipped match-highs of 46 assists and 13 digs, respectively, while Hart added 10 digs to post a double-double.
The first set proved to be a tightly contested affair early, before Lees-McRae claimed a 16-9 lead following a block by Mercado and Harpenau to cap a 4-0 run. The Bobcats held the advantage for the remainder of the frame, closing out the 25-16 first-set win with a 3-0 spurt that was capped by a John Lucas (Cincinnati, Ohio) service ace.
The Saints answered in the second set, taking an early 12-9 lead on a Bobcat miscue. The Bobcats responded with a 5-2 run, evening the score at 14-14 on back-to-back Limestone attack errors. Limestone regained control with an 8-1 run, taking a 22-15 lead on a Schweihofer kill. The Saints would wrap up the set on a Bobcat miscue following a 3-0 spurt by LMC that cut the lead to 23-19.
Limestone carried the momentum into the third set, taking an early 11-8 lead on a Hart kill before Lees-McRae responded, evening the score at 15-15 with a Harpenau kill to cap 7-4 run. Then, with the score knotted at 19-19, the Bobcats closed out the set with a 6-3 run to take a 2-1 advantage in the match on a Mercado kill.
The Saints answered in the fourth, taking a 16-12 lead on a Daley kill before closing out the set on a Hart spike that capped a 6-2 run and evened the match tally at 2-2. Lees-McRae responded once again in the fifth, taking an early 7-5 lead with a 3-0 spurt that was capped by a Harpenau kill. Limestone would fight back, claiming an 11-9 advantage on an Andrew Miller (Miami, Fla.) kill before Lees-McRae responded, closing out the set and the match with a 6-2 run that was capped by an emphatic kill from Mercado.
Match Two: Lees-McRae 3, Philadelphia Biblical 0 (25-21, 25-13, 25-18) - (Box Score)
Mercado added to his night with a match-high 13 kills against the Crimson Eagles, posting a .500 hitting percentage as Lucas and Harpenau each tallied seven kills. Randy Ramirez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) also tallied a match-high 31 assists, as Mercado and Eduardo Gonzales (San Juan, Puerto Rico) each posted two aces. Justin Brubaker (Telford, Pa.) paced the Crimson Eagles with 10 kills, while Noah Prickett (Yardley, Pa.) added seven kills and Drew Dillon (Mount Joy, Pa.) chipped in 13 assists.
The Bobcats stormed out to an early 10-3 lead in the first set, claiming the advantage on a PBU attack error before the Crimson Eagles answered with a 4-1 spurt to cut the margin to 11-7. Lees-McRae responded with a 10-8 run, taking a 21-15 lead on back-to-back kills by Lucas and Mercado before closing out the 25-16 first-set victory on a Mercado spike.
Lees-McRae carried the momentum into the second set, opening an early 9-5 lead on a block by Harpenau and Randy Ramirez. After PBU trimmed the margin to 11-8 with a 3-2 spurt, the Bobcats countered with a 13-3 run to claim a 24-11 advantage following a string of seven straight points. Mercado then closed out the frame with a kill after PBU took advantage of a pair of Bobcat miscues.
Philadelphia Biblical battled back early in the third, trimming the margin to 9-7 on a Brubaker kill before Lees-McRae responded, pushing the lead to 18-11 on back-to-back kills by Lucas and Harpenau. The Bobcats then closed out the straight-set sweep with a 6-3 spurt that was capped by a Mercado kill following a 4-1 run by the Crimson Eagles.
Lees-McRae returns to the court on Saturday when the Bobcats host Pfeiffer University to resume their conference slate. First serve is scheduled for 1 p.m. following the conclusion of the Bobcats' senior day festivities.
- LMC -