Bobcats breeze past Trojans in Conference Carolinas Tournament opener

Box score

BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Senior Whitney Justice (Connelly Springs, N.C.) recorded seven kills and eight swings to lead the top-seeded Lees-McRae College women's volleyball team to a three-set sweep of eighth-seeded Mount Olive College in the quarterfinal round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament on Tuesday night.

Lees-McRae (23-7) won the match by scores of 25-12, 25-15, and 25-7, holding the Trojans (7-23) to a -.099 hitting percentage while posting a blistering .310 clip of its own. The Bobcats tallied six blocks and nine service aces in a match that lasted only 53 minutes.

Megan Epperson (St. John, Ind.) posted a match-high 10 kills to move within one tally of the 1,000-kill plateau for her career, and set a new career high with 370 kills this season. Justice and Taylor Clendenin (Statesville, N.C.) chipped in seven and six kills, respectively, while Mitchell posted a match-high 26 assists. Dana Oliver (Davie, Fla.) chipped in with a match-high 11 digs, while Mitchell and Epperson tallied eight and seven digs, respectively. Justice also recorded a match-high five service aces.

Carly White (Ash, N.C.) and Erika Conner (Marion, Iowa) each recorded four kills for the Trojans, while Kailey Preece (Vineland, Ontario) chipped in 15 assists. Feliz Ramirez (San Antonio, Texas) posted seven digs, while Conner and Destiny Ma'ave-Kuewa (Honolulu, Hawaii) chipped in six and five digs, respectively.

Lees-McRae started strong in the first set, launching an early 6-0 run to take a 10-3 lead on a block from Mitchell and Lauren Fox (Garland, Texas). The Bobcats continued to press the attack, extending the lead to 19-8 with a 9-5 spurt, which was capped by a solo stuff from Epperson. Lees-McRae then closed out the set with six of the final 10 points to take a 1-0 lead in the match.

The Bobcats carried the momentum into the second set, opening the frame with a 13-3 run, which was capped by a kill from Taylor Stice (Franklin, Tenn.). Two Trojan attacking errors pushed the margin to 15-3, which Lees-McRae then widened to 21-8 on a pair of Mount Olive miscues. The Trojans would battle back, cutting the margin to 24-15 on a Ramirez service ace before Epperson capped the set with an emphatic kill to give the Bobcats a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.

Lees-McRae would not let up in the third stanza, tallying the first 14 points of the set to take a 14-0 lead on a kill from Justice. The Bobcats then closed out the frame and the match with 10 of the final 17 points, capping the contest and the 25-7 third-set win on a kill from Jessica Singewald (Port St. Lucie, Fla.).

The Bobcats now advance to the semifinal round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament, which continues Friday when Lees-McRae hosts fourth-seeded Queens University of Charlotte at 6:30 p.m. in Williams Gymnasium.

- LMC -