Photo Courtesy of Katie Jo Daniel
MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – After dropping the first two sets (25-21, 25-20) to Mount Olive, the Lees-McRae College women's volleyball team rallied with two set victories of their own (26-24, 25-19) to force a fifth set in the team's regular season finale. UMO, however, would win the fifth set, 15-9, to push LMC's record to 7-22 overall and 3-11 in conference play.
Set 1 – Lees-McRae faced an early deficit in Saturday's opening set. The Trojans scored the first five points of the stanza to put the pressure on the Bobcats. Lees-McRae did put a rally together to close the gap back down to a pair of points at 20-18. UMO, however, would not be denied as it notched three straight points to gain enough separation to take the first set, 25-21.
Set 2 – The difference in the second set proved to be a pair of lengthy runs by Mount Olive. After the Bobcats scored three of the first four points, the Trojans rattled off a 6-0 run to gain the lead. Later in the frame with the Bobcats trying to mount a rally, Mount Olive went on a 5-0 streak to put the frame out of reach for Lees-McRae, 25-20.
Set 3 – Facing a three-set sweep, the Bobcats put together arguably their best effort of the afternoon in the third. Powered by five kills and a solo block from Hanna Steckler, the Bobcats did not allow the Trojans to make a run like they had in the previous two frames as they stayed alive in the match with a 26-24 set victory.
Set 4 – After the Bobcats took a set from Mount Olive, it seemed like UMO started to unravel in the fourth. Overall, the Trojans totaled 11 errors in the fourth to help the Bobcats earn a decisive 25-19 victory to force a fifth set.
Set 5 – In the abbreviated fifth set, the Bobcats committed five costly attack errors to give Mount Olive added opportunities. Those miscues by Lees-McRae proved to be the difference as UMO finished off the match with a 15-9 set win.
Stat Standouts – No Bobcat had a better statistical day than libero Allie Cunningham. Cunningham totaled 41 digs in the five-set affair to set a new career-high. The 41 digs is the most for a Bobcat since 2015 when Madison Martin totaled 47 digs against Mars Hill. In addition to Cunningham's performance, LMC had five players reach double figures in points. Kaci Thornton was one of those players finishing with double-double with 12 kills and 16 digs, while Lauren Arnold hit .444 with 10 kills.
Next Up – Lees-McRae will return to action on Tuesday when it travels to Emmanuel for the opening round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament. First serve between the Bobcats and Lions is set for 6:30 p.m.