MOUNT OLIVE, North Carolina - The University of Mount Olive women's volleyball team picked up their first win of the season during their home opener in four sets over the UNC Pembroke Braves on Tuesday night at Kornegay Arena in Mount Olive, NC. The Trojans of Mount Olive move to 1-3 while the Braves of UNC Pembroke fall to 6-4.
The Braves started off strong winning the first set 25-16, but the Trojans, hungry for a win, fought in the second set to win in extra points 27-25. UMO carried the momentum from set two into the final two sets and fought off the resilient Braves winning the third and fourth sets 25-23 and 25-21 respectively.
While the Braves held the higher hitting percentage, .200 to UMO's .122, the Trojans had better services with seven aces to UNCP's two. Mount Olive also led in total blocks with 11 to Pembroke's eight. Alyssa Jackson tallied three solo blocks and four assisted for UMO on the night.
Amara Eziakonwa had a great night for UMO leading the team with 10 kills and three service aces. Starr Sergent was close behind with nine kills and Ania Keene added eight more to contribute to the teams' 47 total. Mia Dietz and Essi Penttinen split setting duties throughout the night totaling 32 between the two. Dietz led the way with 22 assists while Penttinen added 10 on the evening.
Jimnelly Del Valle played fantastic defense with a match-high 18 digs on the night as she kept play after play alive for the Trojans victory. Freshman Keyonna Grandy joined Del Valle in double-digit digs with 11 of her own to go along with seven kills.
Three Braves earned double-digit kills figures with Selena Biele leading with 11 on the night. Kaila Crowder and Brianna Warren were close behind with 10 each. Morgan Gibbs and Casey O'Quinn split the setting responsibilities as the pair combined for 40 of the teams 50 assists. Gibbs tallied 21 while O'Quinn added 19. Leading the backline was Shannon Skryd with 11 digs while Anna Heinz and Raven Oates each added 10 of their own.
The Trojans went on an eight-points run in the second set taking a 20-14 lead and held off the Braves to tie the match score at one set apiece. UMO then fought, clawed, and scratched their way to victory in sets three and four to win their first match of the season 16-25, 27-25, 25-23, 25-21 over UNCP.
"Our first home match was a success," said head coach Joelle Mafo. "First thank you to everyone who came and supported us tonight! The crowd energy got us out of tough moments, and I want to personally thank everyone who came."
Mafo also added, "Our team is young, we are still learning each other, we are still getting used to each other! Tonights win helped us understand we can do everything we want with hard work and discipline. I look forward to seeing how we transform into the team we are meant to be!"
The Trojans are back in action on Saturday, September 21, when they open Conference Carolinas action against the Tornado of King University. The Trojans and Tornado meet at Kornegay Arena at 2 p.m. for first serve.