Oct. 11, 2013
GREENVILLE, N.C. –Senior libero Shelby Beasley tied her career-high and the East Carolina school record with a match-high 34 digs to help lift the Pirates over Louisiana Tech, 3-2 [23-25, 25-16, 23-25, 25-9, 19-17], on Friday night at the Pirates’ First Annual Dig Pink contest. The win is ECU’s first Conference USA victory of the season as well as the 10th win of the year, marking the first time East Carolina volleyball has reached double-digit victories since 2008.
The Pirates move to 10-11 overall and 1-3 in league action, while the Lady Techsters fall to 7-13 on the season and 1-4 in C-USA.
“This was just one of those games you just needed to win,” Head coach Julie Torbett said. “We had a fantastic crowd here and it was just so exciting. It was just one of those where you couldn’t let them go home with us losing.
“It was great to get my first Conference USA win and to win at home in front of this crowd on Parent’s Weekend and Dig Pink. We couldn’t have asked for anything better or more exciting.”
Beasley paced the ECU defense with her 34 digs while adding a pair of assists and a service ace. The Winter Park, Fla., native helped the Pirates limit LA Tech to just .036 hitting in the contest. Senior opposite hitter Nicole Willis led the East Carolina offense with a season-high 22 kills to go along with 13 digs for her team-best 11th double-double of the season. Willis also added a career-best four assists, two block assists, and a service ace.
Junior setter Zarah Cecich controlled the offensive attack as she dished out 38 assists, while tying her career-high with seven kills, six digs, three total blocks, and one ace. Senior outside hitter Whitney Campbell also notched a double-double, her second of the year, with 10 kills and as many digs while collecting three total blocks and an ace.
Kierra Lee-Dunson was consistent at the net as she posted a match-high six total blocks while adding five kills. Sophomore outside hitter Torre Blake registered a career-high 10 digs in the Pirates’ win and also contributed six kills, three assists, and one block assist.
“I thought Shelby (Beasley) played great tonight,” Torbett said. “I’ve seen her play and I knew she had it in her. I looked at her numbers from before, so I’m glad to get her back playing that kind of defense. Nicole (Willis) had a positive match too. I told her to just swing away. Zarah (Cecich) had an unbelievable match as well. She was a very good offensive threat for us.”
As a team, East Carolina collected 55 kills, 49 assists, and 85 digs to go along with 10.5 total blocks. The Pirates held the Lady Techsters to 48 kills on 193 attempts and forced them into 41 attack errors for a .036 hitting percentage.
Despite dropping the first set, 25-23, the Pirates controlled the second game as they limited the Lady Techsters to a -.067 hitting percentage in the frame and won by a score of 25-16. The third set was much like the first as the Pirates battled but fell to LA Tech, 25-23.
East Carolina dominated the fourth set as the Pirates hit .323 in frame and knocked down 13 kills. Defensively, the Pirates held the Lady Techsters to just five kills and a -.143 attack percentage. ECU led throughout the frame and cruised to a 25-9 win forcing a fifth and deciding set.
The final game was a battle throughout as both teams fought through eight ties, three lead changes and half a dozen match-points. With the set knotted at 17-all, Willis knocked down a kill to send the game to its sixth match-point of the evening. The Pirates came away with the 19th and final point as they took advantage of a LA Tech attack error.
The victory was a milestone for ECU as the Pirates recorded their first 10-win season in five years and met a personal goal which was set prior to the start of the season.
“(Getting to double digit wins) was definitely one of our goals,” Torbett explained. “A main goal for us was to get into double digit wins. We knew it was possible. We just had to go after it. So to be sitting there right now at 10 wins, we want some more.”
The opportunity for the team’s 11th win of the season will come Sunday, October 13, when the Pirates host Tulane at 2 p.m. It will not be an easy task, however. The Pirates trail the all-time series against the Green Wave, 13-1, with their only victory coming last season in four sets.
“Tulane was one of the teams that we beat last year,” Torbett said. “They are very much improved this season. They started out with a phenomenal non-conference record (14-1) and have been doing well in conference (3-1). We’re going to have to play a little sharper than we did tonight and maybe use some of this excitement and momentum going into Sunday’s match.”
Live stats and video will be available for Sunday’s contest on ECUPirates.com.