Trojans hold off Bobcats, 3-1

Box score

MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. --- The Mount Olive College men's volleyball team won the first two sets, and withstood a furious rally by Lees-McRae College to clinch the 2011 Conference Carolinas men's volleyball regular season championship on Saturday afternoon.

Mount Olive (19-6, 7-0 CC) won the match by scores of 25-23, 25-17, 17-25, and 25-21 while posting six blocks and a .218 hitting percentage. The Bobcats (15-9, 4-2 CC) recorded eight blocks and a .252 hitting percentage, while the Trojans held a 32-23 edge in digs.

Chad Mercado (Orlando, Fla.) posted a match-high 15 kills for the Bobcats, while John Lucas (Cincinnati, Ohio) recorded 11 kills and a team-best .476 hitting percentage to go along with a contest-high four blocks. Randy Ramirez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) chipped in 41 assists while Eduardo Gonzales (San Juan, Puerto Rico) and Dylan Kembre (West Chester, Ohio) each tallied a team-high five digs.

Angel Dache paced the Trojans with 15 kills, as Benedikt Schirmers and Adam Miracle chipped in 12 and nine kills, respectively. Jackson Mettechecchi added match-highs of 44 assists and nine digs, while John Nunns equaled Lucas' contest-best total of four blocks.

Mount Olive led wire-to-wire in the first set, claiming a 17-12 lead on a Bobcat miscue before Lees-McRae responded with a 7-3 run to cut the margin to 20-19 on a block by Lucas. The Trojans then closed out the set with a 5-4 spurt to claim the early advantage in the match.

The Bobcats answered early in the second, battling back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 7-6 lead on back-to-back Trojan errors to force a Mount Olive timeout. The Trojans responded with a 16-9 run, claiming a 22-16 lead on a Dache kill before closing out the set on a Dache service ace to claim a 2-0 advantage in the contest.

Lees-McRae responded in the third, opening the set with a 16-11 run that was capped by a kill by Chris Flood (Louisville, Ky.). The Bobcats would hold on from there, claiming the set on a kill by Matt Harpenau (Cincinnati, Ohio) to cut the match-margin to 2-1.

Mount Olive reclaimed the momentum early in the fourth set, taking a 9-5 lead on a block by Miracle and Nunns. After the Bobcats battled back to cut the lead to 13-12 following a pair of Trojan errors, Mount Olive launched a 12-9 run to close out the set and the match on a Mettechecchi kill to cap the 25-21 fourth-frame win.

Lees-McRae returns to the court on Tuesday when the Bobcats travel to Bristol, Tenn. to take on King College (Tenn.) to resume their conference slate. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m.

- LMC -