MACON, Ga. (School Release) - Freshman outside hitter Molly Locke posted her fifth double-double of the season to lead Mercer volleyball team to a statement victory over East Tennessee State on Tuesday night at Hawkins Arena. Mercer's 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 25-17) sweep marked the both the team's Atlantic Sun conference opener and home court debut.
Mercer's third-straight win sent the Bears to 5-6 (1-0 A-Sun) on the year while ETSU slipped to 9-6 (0-1 A-Sun). The victory also marked the first time Mercer has started 1-0 in conference play since 2008.
After edging the Lady Bucs in a see-saw first set, the Bears put the pedal-to-the-metal at the outset of the second frame. Mercer raced out to a 6-1 lead and never looked back en route to the 25-16 victory.
By the third set, Mercer's home court advantage had the visitors on their heels. The Bears broke away from an initial 3-3 tie with a 6-3 surge and never trailed the rest of the way.
Locke smashed a match-high 15 kills and collected 13 digs, establishing the ninth time this season she had led or tied for the team lead in kills. Her 28 attacks came with just four errors, equating to a .393 hitting percentage.
Sophomore Caroline Carlton and senior Charlayna Braxton were also especially effective against the ETSU front-line defense. Carlton pounded out nine kills with only one error, while Braxton crushed seven kills with just two miscues. Carlton's efforts registered a .444 attacking efficiency while Braxton booked a .357 hitting percentage.
Senior setter Monica Sanchez topped 30 assists for the third-straight game, collecting 36 helpers in the winning effort. Her 36 assists also came in conjunction with six digs and a pair of kills.
Junior Emily Rochefort, who came into the match ranked fifth in the nation in digs per set (5.83), collected 12 digs, three assists and two service aces.
Mercer resumes conference play hosting Stetson on Friday night at 7 p.m.