Volleyball Releases 2008 Schedule
July 3, 2008
GREENVILLE, N.C. - The challenge of reloading the East Carolina volleyball program remains head coach Chris Rushing's top priority for the young, but more seasoned Pirates as they prepare to embark on their 2008 journey. Last season, ECU finished in eighth place in Conference USA and Rushing is counting on a move upward in the standings this year. Highlighting this year's schedule are two home and two road tournaments as well as clashes against in-state opponents Campbell, N.C. Central, Wake Forest, High Point, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Wilmington and N.C. State.
"We are excited to get started on another season," Rushing said. "We are a relatively young team, having only one senior on our roster, so we're grateful towards our administration to help us make a schedule conducive to our situation."
The Pirates begin the season at home with the East Carolina Classic (Aug. 29-30), a tournament which will feature High Point, Howard and East Tennessee State. High Point is coming off its best season as a Division I program with a 24-9 mark and will provide the Pirates with a tough test. East Tennessee State made a trip to the Atlantic Sun Conference semifinals in 2007 and finished the year with a 19-13 record.
ECU will take a one-match break from tournament play Sept. 4, traveling to Durham to take on N.C. Central. The 2007 season marked the Eagles' first as a Division I team and the squad reached the 20-win plateau.
The Pirates will follow by swinging back into tournament play, traveling to High Point for the High Point Tournament (Sept. 5-6) and facing South Carolina State, High Point, Marist, and UNC Greensboro. The Spartans should be a formidable opponent as they earned a second-place finish in both the Southern Conference regular season and conference tournament last season.
East Carolina will then take another break from tournament play when it hosts Campbell on Sept. 10 before facing some its stiffest non-conference competition of the campaign by visiting Winston-Salem to participate in the Wake Forest Tournament (Sept. 12-13). ECU opens up tournament play against Delaware, the 2007 champion of the Colonial Athletic Association and winner of a first round NCAA Tournament match, before taking on host Wake Forest and wrapping up the event with a match against Mid-American Conference regular season runner-up Western Michigan. The Pirates' three opponents in the Wake Forest Tournament field had a combined record of 60-40 a year ago.
Rounding out the non-conference schedule is a home date with UNC Wilmington Sept. 17 and the Pirates final tournament of the year -- the East Carolina Invitational (Sept. 19-20), which will welcome Marshall, Morgan State, and N.C. State to Minges Coliseum.
"It is more fun for our athletes to play at home in front of their friends they've made at ECU, as well as our wonderful community that supports us," Rushing added. "Playing more matches at home also helps us to be able to attend more classes and get more quality study time."
After tournament play, ECU heads directly into Conference USA action with home matches against UAB (Sept. 26) and Memphis (Sept. 28). The Pirates will also play host to league foes Houston, Rice, Tulsa, SMU, Southern Miss and UCF. "Our conference may be the toughest competition we've had since I got here a few years ago," Rushing pointed out. "We need to learn and grow real fast in order to be ready to compete in Conference USA this season."
ECU will travel to Tulane, UTEP, Marshall, UAB, Memphis, Southern Miss and Memphis for conference matches. The Pirates will be making a return trip to Memphis at the end of November for the 2008 Conference USA Volleyball Championship.
Rushing graduated only one senior from the 2007 team, and will return four starters and eight letterwinners from the same squad that finished with an overall record of 16-17 and a 6-10 mark in C-USA matches.
With another year of experience for his younger players, and the addition of four newcomers (one transfer and three freshmen), ECU's fourth-year coach has high hopes heading into the season.