by Doug Page
WILSON, N.C. – The Barton College Bulldogs secured their 13th straight victory on Tuesday night inside Wilson Gym with a 3-1 (25-21, 21-25, 25-18, 25-19) win against rival the University of Mount Olive in Conference Carolinas men's volleyball action.
Barton (18-6, 14-0) retained sole possession of first place in the league and completed a regular-season sweep of the Trojans after recording a 3-2 victory earlier this season against UMO. Mount Olive (14-11, 10-4) recorded 13 kills in taking the second set against the Bulldogs but would hit less than .100 in each of the next two sets.
Sophomore Angelos Mandilaris recorded a match-high 22 kills while hitting .375 in the contest to lead the Bulldogs. A. Mandilaris also tallied one ace, five digs, and three block assists. Junior Aleksa Brkovic tallied nine kills while adding five assists and seven digs for BC. Senior Michael Perez recorded a match-high 12 digs for Barton to go along with one ace and one kill, while fellow senior Charles Hyde recorded four block assists. Junior Nick Leary tallied a team-high four aces to go along with four kills and three block assists. Redshirt sophomore Oscar Fiorentino tallied a team-high 31 assists while notching eight digs, three kills, and one solo block.
Robert Poole notched a team-high 13 kills in the contest for the Trojans to go along with a match-high six aces and a team-high seven digs. Bret Rutledge added eight kills for Mount Olive while tallying four aces and three digs. Brad Monaghan recorded seven kills and seven digs, while Jeff Yasalonis tallied a match-high 33 assists.
The opening set featured several tie scores and a pair of lead changes as Barton looked to gain the momentum in front of its home crowd. BC recorded 13 kills as a team in the set and hit .340, while the Trojans committed five attack errors and hit just .111 as a team. Barton trailed 14-9 in the set but would rally following a timeout to trim the UMO lead to 14-13.
Mount Olive would open a 19-15 advantage in the set but lose momentum following another timeout by the Bulldogs. BC countered with a 5-0 run to take a 20-19 lead against the Trojans. The teams would exchange points until a service error by Poole gave Barton a 22-21 lead. The Bulldogs closed the set on a 3-0 run to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
The Trojans wouldn't relinquish the lead in the second set as BC would tie the score five times but be unable to take a lead. UMO opened the set with a 7-3 run following a kill from Yigit Erkek. BC would rally to trim the deficit to 7-6 after an ace from A. Mandilaris.
Trailing 20-17 in the set, Barton countered a 3-0 run by the Trojans with a 3-0 run of its own to knot the score 20-20. Mount Olive closed the set on a 5-1 run to even the match 1-1 and take the set 25-21. The Trojans recorded eight aces in the set including four from Poole, while BC tallied just six kills as a team.
Barton flipped the script on Mount Olive in the third set and would open an 8-4 lead as the Trojans opted for a timeout. Out of the timeout, junior Justice Lord tallied consecutive kills to up the BC lead to 10-4. UMO cut the gap to 17-14 in the set before BC used a 3-0 rally to take a 20-14 advantage in the set. The run featured a pair of kills from Brkovic along with an ace from Perez.
The Bulldogs used a 4-1 rally to open a 24-16 lead and looked to close out the set and take a lead in the match. UMO battled to cut the deficit to 24-18 before a kill from A. Mandilaris secured the 25-18 victory in the set and a 2-1 lead in the match.
The fourth set saw both teams record 11 kills as the lead would change hands four separate times. After falling behind 4-3 in the set, BC rattled-off seven consecutive points to take a 10-4 advantage. The run featured three aces and six serves from Leary. Trailing 16-10, UMO used a 4-0 run to cut the Barton lead to just two points. The Bulldogs countered with a 4-0 run and tallied six of the next seven points to increase their lead to 22-15.
Leading 24-17, Barton would see the Trojans close the gap to 24-19 before an attack error by Poole secured the 25-19 victory in the set along with a 3-1 win in the match.
Barton finishes the regular-season with a pair of matches on the road as BC heads to Bristol, Tenn. for a showdown with the King Tornado on April 6 at 7 p.m. A win by the Bulldogs would secure a first-place finish in the conference along with a season sweep of the Tornado.