by Cory Guinn
WILSON, N.C. – It took only six years for the Barton men's volleyball to earn the program's first Conference Carolinas Tournament Championship as the Bulldogs defeated rival University of Mount Olive 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-17) on Saturday night in Wilson Gymnasium.
Barton (23-5), the tournament's No. 1 overall seed, were dominant throughout the match and hit at .403 clip. BC's defense held Mount Olive (18-10, the No. 3 overall seed, to a .049 hitting percentage in the match with 32 digs and seven total blocks.
Sophomore Vasilis Mandilaris led the way with a match-high 13 kills and a .647 hitting percentage to go along with five digs, while fellow sophomore Aleksa Brkovic chipped in nine kills and a .462 hitting mark. Freshman Angelos Mandilaris was second on the team with 11 kills and hit .333 and sophomore Nick Leary had six total blocks.
Senior setter and the tournament's most valuable player Federico Pagliara had 31 assists in the match, while sophomore Justice Lord totaled three kills and career-high six digs. Senior libero Jonathan Novoa-Miralles led all players with eight digs on the back row.
The first set of play remained close with Barton holding a slim 10-9 lead before an 8-1 run opened the lead to an eight-point margin. BC remained in control the rest of the way as a Mount Olive attack error ended the frame.
Barton opened the second set with a 5-1 run, highlight by two kills from V. Mandilaris, and extended the lead to 18-11 late. The Bulldogs cruised to 25-15 win following another attack error from the Trojans.
Led by the serving efforts of Lord, Barton scored six unanswered points to open the third set of play and never trailed, winning the match on a kill from A. Mandilaris to secure the title.
V. Mandilaris, Brkovic and Pagliara were each named to the All-Tournament Team, while Pagliara received the tournament's Most Valuable Player Award.
The next match for Barton will the program's first ever appearance in the NCAA Men's Volleyball Tournament on May 2. The opponent and location of the tournament will be announced tomorrow afternoon.