For all the buzz entering the rivalry match about Barton having the conference’s top-ranked offense, it was the defense that helped secure the program’s first regular season championship.
Barton held Mount Olive to less than a .050 attack percentage in a 25-16, 25-22, 25-13 victory on Tuesday in Wilson, North Carolina, to clinch a share of the Conference Carolinas regular season title.
Both Barton (20-5, 16-2 ConfCarolinas) and King (27-3, 16-2 ConfCarolinas) won their regular season finales to end tied for first place. However, Barton controlled the head-to-head tiebreaker to earn the No. 1 seed and home court advantage throughout the conference tournament.
The Bulldogs in the home sweep out-hit their in-state rivals .338 to .045, including keeping the Trojans to a match-worst negative-.138 attack percentage in the final game.
Barton finished the match with nine blocks — five more than Mount Olive (16-9, 14-4 ConfCarolinas). Middle attacker Nick Leary and outside attacker Aleksa Brkovic each finished with a match-high six blocks, while middle attacker Justice Lord added four blokes.
Along with its front-row defense, setter Federico Pagliara led all players with 10 digs.
Pagliara also had 28 assists and guided the Bulldogs offense to at least a .350 attack percentage in each of the final two games.
The Bulldogs had two players who had more than five kills while hitting at least .300. Opposite Angelos Mandilaris had a match-high 10 kills on a .381 attack percentage and Brkovic contributed nine kills and hit .412.
Mount Olive opposite Robert Poole was held to four kills and a negative attack percentage in the loss. Poole entered the match second in the Conference Carolinas averaging 3.53 kills per game.
Barton will now advance to play the No. 8 seed and defending Conference Carolinas champions Erskine in the conference tournament quarterfinals on Tuesday. The will also be a rematch of the 2016 conference championship match.
Mount Olive entered the regular season finale having a chance to win the conference regular season title. With the loss, Mount Olive drops to the No. 3 seed and will play the No. 6 seed Lees-McRae in its quarterfinal match.