BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Lees-McRae senior Matt Harpenau cranked out a match-high 20 kills while LMC hit better than .450 in consecutive sets, but fell in a five-set battle to Barton, 23-25, 25-18, 25-19, 19-15, 8-15, in Conference Carolinas action Saturday afternoon at Williams Gymnasium in Banner Elk, N.C.
The Bulldogs (9-14, 5-6 CC) swung at an eye-popping .550 clip in the fourth set while Zach McCalla tallied 17 kills and five aces. The Bobcats (12-11, 4-6) dropped their second five-setter in as many days and sixth over.
The Bulldogs used a hot start to jump out to a 7-2 lead in the opener. However, Bobcat freshman Gabriel Rivera (Cupey Bajo, Puerto Rico) dished out three assists to Harpenau (Cincinnati, Ohio) while collecting a solo block to tie at 15.
Freshman Mark Shayka (Hamilton, Va.) delivered consecutive kills from Rivera, but LMC trailed 22-21.
BC used a pair of Chad Stanback Jr. kills to clip LMC, 25-23, in the first set.
Both teams swung effectively while the Bulldogs went for a .333 mark.
The second set was tight throughout while it produced 11 ties. The Bulldog's Ladislav Lelkes failed to clear the net on a serve, which was the sparkplug for a Bobcat 10-3 run.
Senior Josh Cothron (Bradenton, Fla.) and Harpenau stuffed consecutive shots off the arm off J. Novoa Miralles before Harpenau smashed home two kills to end the second.
LMC had the hot hand in the third hand while swinging at a .458 clip and used a 16-10 run, capped off by a Sam Sheers (Centerville, Ohio) and Kevin Morrison (Norfolk, Va.) block to take a 20-14 advantage.
Brady Markle (York, Pa.), Cothron and Morrison registered a kill over the next 10 points while LMC took a 2-1 set lead.
The Bulldogs responded by leading the fourth set in wire-to-wire fashion. McCalla and Tyler Malpass stuffed a Bobcat attack, giving the visitors an 11-6 lead.
LMC would cut the deficit to two, 14-12, following a Randy Ramirez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) ace.
Ramirez averaged 10 assists per set.
BC methodically stretched the lead to 20-14, thanks to consecutive McCalla kills.
Markle chipped in with two of his 19 kills, but the Bulldogs staved off LMC to claim the fourth.
The Bobcats quickly took a 2-0 lead in the deciding set, but BC duplicated its previous set' success with a 10-4 run to forcing LMC to call a timeout, 10-6.
The Bulldogs swung at a .400 mark while wrapping up the match in the fifth.
Sheers led the squad in digs (11) while notching double digit kills (10).
Both teams amassed nine total team blocks while BC churned out 10 service aces.
The Bobcats look to snap their recent skid with a trip to King (Tenn.) Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Bristol, Tenn.
- LMC -