BELMONT, N.C. -- Liam Maxwell and Pierce Pliapol topped double figures in kills, but Mount Olive escaped with a hard-fought 3-1 (25-22, 25-13, 22-25, 25-15) Conference Carolinas men's volleyball victory over Belmont Abbey Friday night at the Wheeler Center. Maxwell posted 14 kills and eight digs, while Pliapol tallied 11 kills.
Bryce Sullivan and Brennan Davis shared setting duties, registering 19 and 18 assists, respectively, while Rob Valentine (16) and Davis (10) reached double figures in digs. Mount Olive (10-5, 7-2) had three players with at least 11 kills, led by Bret Rutledge's 12.
Belmont Abbey (6-9, 4-5) broke an 8-8 tie in the first set with three straight points, but the Trojans countered with four in a row for a 12-11 lead. The teams were later tied at 20 when UMO had back-to-back points for a two-point advantage. The teams traded points until 23-22, when a pair of Abbey attack errors ended the set, 25-22. The second set wasn't nearly as close as the Trojans used three straight points to start a 7-1 run that pushed a 3-2 lead to 10-3. Belmont Abbey closed to within six, but Mount Olive ended the set with six of the final eight points for a 25-13 win.
But the Crusaders did not quit. They hit a match-best .216 in the third set, while holding UMO to a .105 hitting percentage. The Abbey led 10-9 when it earned consecutive points, then stretched the lead to 14-10. Mount Olive chipped away, then later rallied with a 3-0 run to even the set at 19-19. But a timeout led to a service error and ace by Maxwell for a 21-19 advantage. With the score 22-21, a kill by Brian Long and UMO attack error set up set point. The Trojans saved the first, but Pliapol picked up a kill for a 25-22 victory that forced another set.
Belmont Abbey led 6-3 early in the final set, but UMO tied the score at 8. After a kill by Maxwell, the Trojans tallied three straight points that started a 6-1 run that turned the tide. The Crusaders cut the margin to 14-12 but four of the next five points went to the visitors creating enough momentum that The Abbey could not overcome.
The Crusaders return to action tomorrow afternoon at 2 in the Wheeler Center when they take on Conference Carolinas leader Barton.