Sep 7, 2013
GREENVILLE, N.C. -The Pirate volleyball team split a pair of matches to conclude the East Carolina Classic on Saturday at Minges Coliseum. ECU swept Morgan State, 3-0 (25-14, 27-25, 26-24), before falling to Loyola Chicago, 3-0 (22-25, 24-26, 20-25). The Pirates victory over the Bears marked the first time ECU recorded back-to-back sweeps since 2009.
Nicole Willis recorded a set of double-doubles in the two matches. The senior from Raleigh, N.C., notched 12 kills and 10 digs versus Morgan State and followed that performance with 11 kills and a career-best 18 digs against Loyola. Overall, Willis finished the tournament with 44 kills (4.89 per set), 35 digs (3.89 per set), six total blocks, three service aces and two assists en route to being named to the All-Tournament Team.
Senior libero Shelby Beasely was also named to the All-Tournament Team after concluding the weekend with 43 digs (4.78 per set), six assists, four service aces and one kill. Against Morgan State, Beasley notched a match-high 20 digs to go along with two aces, an assist and one kill. She came back versus Loyola and tallied 10 digs and one assist in the match.
"It was nice to be in the championship of the tournament," Head Coach Julie Torbett said. "We're definitely trying to teach the team how to win, how to compete and to be excited about every point and everything we've got going on, and it's a lot for them to learn all of the new ways and new things that we're doing.
"I thought we had some good moments out there fighting and battling for points," Torbett continued. "We just need to get back into the gym and do better. I was really happy, obviously, with the previous two matches being able to win in three. We've lost all of our matches in three sets so we've got to be able to drop a set and come back and still be able to come back and win the match."
Against Morgan State (1-5), the Pirates hit .172 and registered 40 kills, 59 digs, 37 assists, 8.0 blocks and seven aces. ECU (2-4) took an early lead in the first set and, despite the Bears' efforts, held on to claim a 25-22 victory. The Pirates came back in the second set and knocked down 15 kills while hitting .303. East Carolina limited Morgan State to .118 hitting in that frame and went on to win set two, 27-25. The Pirates earned the sweep of the Bears with a 26-24 win in the third set after recording 13 kills and holding Morgan State to a -.118 hitting percentage. The visitors finished the match hitting .023 with 31 kills and 53 digs to go along with nine service aces, 29 assists and 6.0 blocks.
In addition to being led by Willis and Beasley, ECU benefitted from solid performances by senior middle hitter Virginia Fitch who put up a game-high seven blocks and added six kills and two aces. Whitney Campbell registered eight kills and as many digs with three block assists and an ace, while Zarah Cecich collected 27 assists, five digs, four kills, a block and one ace, and sophomore Torre Blake added four kills, three digs, a trio of blocks and an assist for the Pirates.
"Shelby has been a really a consistent, solid performer in the back row getting 20-plus digs in our matches and kind of anchors the defense for us," Torbett said. "She's done a really solid job and is really consistent. Nicole has been a little bit up and down, but when you have to swing as much as she does, you're going to make mistakes as the other team is keying in on you. Zarah also did a really good job, had a double-double Friday night, and also had a nice performance Saturday morning."
In the final match of the day, ECU went up against Loyola (5-2). Coming into the contest, neither team had lost a match in the tournament. Although the Ramblers went on to sweep the Pirates, East Carolina kept Loyola on its toes. The Pirates stayed close in all three sets, falling in the first frame, 22-25. ECU managed to push Loyola to the brink in the second set as the Ramblers edged the Pirates, 26-24. In the third and final game, the Pirates and Ramblers saw four ties and three lead changes before Loyola defeated ECU, 25-20.
The Pirates hit .144 against Loyola and collected 40 kills, 56 digs, 33 assists and 9.0 blocks, while the Ramblers hit .203 and registered 40 kills, 62 digs, 40 assists, seven aces and 5.0 blocks. ECU was led by Willis' double-double of 11 kills and 18 digs. She also added three blocks, two assists and a pair of services aces. Cecich and freshman Bella Borgiotti combined for 29 assists at setter with Cecich posting 15 and Borgiotti notching 14. Sophomore Kierra Lee-Dunson posted a match-high six blocks, four kills, and one dig, while Beasley amassed 10 digs and Campbell tallied nine kills and as many digs.
"I thought Bella came out and did a good job for us," Torbett said. "Nicole had moments of greatness and was a real leader for us. I thought our two outsides, Torre Blake and Whitney Campbell, had two really good and solid performances against Loyola. I think we have a good group to work with and, mostly, we're just going to work on trying to get better each and every outing that we have the opportunity to play."
The Pirates will look to bounce back from the setback against Loyola Tuesday, September 10, at Campbell in Buies Creek, N.C. First serve is slated for 7 p.m.
East Carolina Classic All-Tournament Team
Shelby Beasley, East Carolina
Erin Bucherl, The Citadel
Maureen Carls, Loyola
Stephanie Kinane, Loyola
Morgan Reardon, Loyola
Zuri Smith, Morgan State
Nicole Willis, East Carolina
East Carolina Classic MVP: Maureen Carls, Loyola