Men's Volleyball

Bobcats rally for season-opening 3-2 win over Saints

Bobcats rally for season-opening 3-2 win over Saints

GAFFNEY, S.C. --- Sophomore Joshua Jones (Christmas, Fla.) recorded 15 kills and a match-high .571 hitting percentage on Saturday afternoon, as the Lees-McRae College men's volleyball team rallied for a hard-fought five-set victory over Limestone College in Conference Carolinas play in the Bobcats' season opener.

Lees-McRae (1-0, 1-0 CC) won the match by scores of 25-11, 24-26, 23-25, 25-20, and 15-11, posting a .301 hitting percentage while holding Limestone (1-1, 0-1 CC) to an attacking clip of .051. The Bobcats recorded 64 kills and 12.5 blocks in the contest, while digging out 43 Limestone attacks.

Sophomore Javier Jimenez (San Sebastian, Puerto Rico) paced the Bobcats with a match-high 16 kills in his LMC debut, as Jones and John Lucas (Cincinnati, Ohio) added 15 and 12 smashes, respectively. Randy Ramirez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) chipped in a double-double with match-highs of 39 assists and 12 digs, while Jones and Lucas each posted a contest-best seven blocks.

Eric Zaun led the way for Limestone with 12 kills, as Scott Warren added nine smashes and Joe Gilliland chipped in a team-high 11 digs. Andrew Pile nearly posted a double-double of his own with 24 assists and eight digs, while he and Miller each added five blocks.

The Bobcats started strong in the first set, scoring the match's opening five points before surging to a 16-6 advantage following a kill by Ramirez. Lees-McRae would close out the frame from there, outscoring the Saints by a 9-5 margin over the remainder of the set to take a 1-0 lead in the match on a smash by Sam Sheers (Centerville, Ohio).

Limestone battled back in the second, rallying from an early 6-3 deficit to even the tally at 11-11 on a Bobcat miscue. Lees-McRae would answer with an 8-2 run, claiming a 19-13 advantage following a smash from Matt Harpenau (Cincinnati, Ohio). The Saints responded with an 8-3 spurt of their own, closing the gap to 22-21 on a Warren kill before claiming the set, 26-24, to even the match at 1-1 following back-to-back smashes by Kevin Hart.

Lees-McRae answered in the early moments of the third, opening the frame with a 10-6 run that was capped by back-to-back kills from Jimenez. The Bobcats would continue to dictate play over the next several minutes, pushing the lead to 16-12 on a solo block by Jones.

Limestone responded with a 9-5 run, evening the tally at 21-21 before closing out the set with a 4-2 spurt to cap the frame with a Zaun kill to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

The Bobcats answered in the fourth, opening an early 12-4 advantage following a service ace by freshman Brady Markle (York, Pa.). Limestone would battle back, cutting the lead to 12-9 before Lees-McRae countered with a 5-1 spurt, pushing the margin to 17-10 on a Jones kill.

The Saints closed the gap once again with a 9-5 run, cutting the lead to 22-19 following a Hart smash. Lees-McRae would answer with a 3-1 spurt, sending the match to a decisive fifth set with a 25-20 win in the fourth frame.

Limestone jumped out to an early lead in the fifth, taking a 7-5 advantage on a Warren service ace before the Bobcats responded with a 3-0 spurt to claim the lead following a block by Harpenau and Ramirez. The Bobcats parlayed the run into a 12-9 margin, after Limestone cut the lead to 12-11, Lees-McRae capped the comeback with a 15-11 fifth-set win following a kill by Lucas.

Lees-McRae returns to the court on Wednesday, January 23 when the Bobcats travel to Bristol, Tenn. to take on King College in conference play at 7 p.m.

- LMC -