PEMBROKE, N.C. – The Coker College women's volleyball team improved to 5-1 with victories over Fayetteville State and Shaw University in the opening day of the UNC Pembroke Invitational on Friday (Aug. 31).
The Cobras defeated Fayetteville State 3-0 (25-13, 25-21, 25-16) in their first game of the day behind an impressive effort from freshman Lana Strejcek. Strejcek recorded eight kills, three service aces, and a hitting percentage of .500 to help pace the Cobras offense, while fellow freshman Rami Mullen turned in another stellar performance with 28 assists and seven digs.
Coker took control of the match early, winning the first set easily 25-13. Cayley Gunter was the offensive catalyst early on for the Cobras, recording three quick kills to help her team jump out in front 8-3. The Cobras stretched the lead as high as nine points before closing out the set with four straight points for the victory.
The second set was more competitive with Fayetteville holding a 21-20 lead before a run of five straight points helped close out the Broncos. The Cobras capitalized on a service error, and four straight attack errors to pull out the victory. Taylor du Bray recorded four points in the set with two kills and two service aces. Du Bray ended the match with eight kills, three service aces, and four digs.
The third set belonged to the Cobras from beginning to end. Coker jumped out to a 6-0 advantage, and led by as much as 16-6 after consecutive services aces from Strejcek. Emily Everton made the most of a brief appearance down the stretch, recording three kills for Coker's final three points of the match.
The Cobras had to work a bit harder to defeat an extremely talented Shaw team that finished 27-5 last season, and was picked to finish first in the CIAA this season. Coker ultimately won the match 3-1 (16-25, 25-23, 25-20, 25-22) thanks to another classic du Bray performance.
While Shaw took the first set 25-16, Coker rebounded to steal a thrilling second set 25-23. The Cobras trailed 9-3 to start the set, and then stormed back to tie the Bears 13-13 thanks to back-to-back kills from Payton Jackson. Coker took a 22-19 lead, but the Bears responded to tie the set again at 23-23. Du Bray recorded a kill, and Kara Overholt responded with a service ace to finish off the Bears and even the match.
Coker led the third set 15-9, but Shaw closed the gap to just 15-14. Du Bray helped give her team some cushion when she recorded a kill, and then served a pair of aces to push the advantage back to 20-14. She would finish the set recording seven of her 19 kills for the match. Her full line was 19 kills, 15 digs, and three services aces. Coker would win the set 25-20.
The fourth set was yet another battle. The Cobras led 15-10 after a Strejcek kill, but the Bears stormed back to take a 20-18 lead. Kills by Arianne Jewell and du Bray tied the set 20-20, and a pair of kills from Payton Jackson helped close out the set and give the Cobras the match victory.
Mullen shined again, recording 44 assists and 13 digs, while Jewell notched seven kills and a .357 hit percentage.
The Cobras will be back in action for a doubleheader on Saturday when they take on Lees-McRae at 3 pm, and then UNC Pembroke at 7 pm. Fans can watch the game against UNC Pembroke via their YouTube channel at this link.