2009 East Carolina Volleyball Season Blog
The Quest For C-USA Supremacy Continues This Weekend (Sept. 24, 2009)
After a big 3-1 win at Campbell last Tuesday, the East Carolina volleyball team looks to rebound from an 0-1 start to conference play by hosting UCF and Southern Miss at Minges Coliseum on Friday and Sunday, respectively. The Pirates stand at 6-6 heading into the weekend and become the last league squad to play a home contest this season.
After a 1-4 start which featured tilts against the likes of St. John's, VCU, Virginia Tech and Arkansas, the women have rebounded nicely to post wins in five of their last seven outings. ECU is learning how to function as a unit on the court rather than in six separate entities. The win over a much improved Campbell team on the road should boost the Pirates' confidence with 15 conference matches left on the schedule.
Senior setter Hannah Fenker was kind enough to share her thoughts on the 2009 campaign so far.
"We have been working on a lot of different aspects of the game. We are working on the physical aspects, but also with the mental and emotional. We are working on sticking together and having each others backs on the court. I think with every game we play we are improving in all of these areas. As our matches progress we are playing really good volleyball for longer periods of time. Hopefully we can continue to increase the times when we play great volleyball, and decrease errors as we enter the conference season. I am really excited for the conference season. I think that our team has the ability to come out and surprise a lot of teams."
VCU Invitational Preview (Aug. 27, 2009)
The East Carolina volleyball program ushers in a new era this weekend as newly appointed head coach Pati Rolf leads the Pirates into Richmond, Va. for the VCU Third Degree Sportswear Invitational. ECU faces Wright State, St. John's and the host Rams in the season-opening event while Temple will also serve as a participant. Against its weekend foes, East Carolina holds an all-time record of 17-18, however all but one of those contests have occurred opposite VCU, which leads the series with the Pirates 18-16. ECU has never faced St. John's in volleyball and owns a 1-0 record against the Raiders.
The Pirates field a more experienced squad this season, as all but one starter returns to help East Carolina improve on its 13-19 record. That mark could be deceiving, since the Pirates went the full five sets in six of those losses, including four in conference play. ECU loses its top defensive player in libero Trish Monroe, but brings back 100 percent of its offense and both setters. Additionally, Katie Virtue (Ohio State,`03) and Kelley Wernert (East Carolina, `08) join the program as assistant coaches.
In 32 seasons of volleyball, East Carolina holds a 15-17 record in season openers. 2009 marks just the second time in the last seven campaigns that the Pirates have begun the year away from Greenville.
The East Carolina volleyball team returns six starters and 12 letterwinners from the 2008 squad. The Pirates will also step on the court in 2009 without any true freshmen.
New Sherrif In Town...
Coaching veteran Pati Rolf enters her first season with East Carolina, succeeding Chris Rushing who had served the program for four years. Rolf boasts a career record of 412-267 over 21 seasons at Minnesota- Duluth and former Conference USA member Marquette. She also represents just one of 15 certified female international officials for the sport in the world.
Rolf Racks Up...
In terms of career wins, 412 is an impressive number within itself. However, Rolf represents one of just 45 active coaches at the NCAA Division I level with at least 400 victories to her credit.
Monroe Moves Up the Charts...
With her 13 digs in the match against Marshall in the 2008 regular season finale, graduated defensive specialist Trish Monroe passed Stephanie Bishop of DePaul (1998-01) and moved into third-place on the C-USA career digs leaderboard. Monroe tallied 1,864 digs in four years with the Pirates while Jaci Gonzalez of Houston (2002-05) is the all-time league leader with 2,451.
East Carolina has taken part in six of the last eight C-USA Tournaments. The only two seasons that the Pirates have not participated in the event are 2002 and 2003, as the squad became volleyball members of the Irving, Texas-based conference in 2002. Beginning with the current campaign, only the top eight teams in the C-USA standings will earn spots in the tournament.
Busting Out Of the Gates...
East Carolina sprinted out to its best start in program history in 2008, accruing an 8-2 record in its first 10 matches. Additionally, the Pirates notched five-straight sweeps over East Tennessee State, Howard, High Point, North Carolina Central and South Carolina State.
For the Very First Time
With a 3-1 triumph over Marshall on Sept. 19, 2008 in Greenville, ECU collected its first-ever victory in eight tries over the Thundering Herd. The Pirates have now beaten every current member of Conference USA except defending champion Tulane.
In the Oct. 24 match against Tulsa, Lizzy Bruin finished with a team and career-high 20 kills. It was the first time an ECU player had reached the 20-kill plateau since Kelley Wernert tallied 24 against SMU in the 2007 C-USA Tournament. Bruin's previous career best occurred against High Point on Sept. 5 of last season.
The Full Distance...
With a 3-2 win over SMU on Oct. 26, 2008, the Pirates notched their first five-set victory of the season. The seven such contests for East Carolina in 2008 marked the most in a single season since 1997, when the Pirates were involved in 10 of them.
The Key To Winning...Starting Strong
If one were to look for any indication of how a match might have progressed for ECU in 2008, he or she would have to look no further than the first set. When winning that first frame, the Pirates owned an 11-5 record, but were just 2-14 when dropping the initial set.
Three Pirates notched double-doubles of a different sort in 2008, as Erica Banning, Hannah Fenker and Stephanie Turner each led ECU in at least two statistical categories in more than 10 matches throughout the season.
East Carolina Volleyball Photo Night 2009 (August 19, 2009)
The East Carolina volleyball team dressed to impress on Monday night as it held its annual photo night. Team members took individual headshots in the lobby of the Ward Sports Medicine Building before moving outside for team shots. Check out the photo gallery from Monday evening below. Only eight days until the season opener against Wright State!
Volleyball Continues Preseason Preparations (Aug. 17, 2009)
The East Carolina volleyball team continued its preseason Monday morning and afternoon inside Minges Coliseum. Blocking and defense seemed to be the theme of the day as the Pirates continued to improve as a team in these aspects of the game.
Eleven days remain until the season opener against Wright State at the Third Degree Sportswear Invitational, hosted by VCU from Aug. 28-29. ECU and the Rams are former Colonial Athletic Association rivals as VCU holds a slight 18-16 lead in the all-time series. Look for more on the Rams, Raiders and the Pirates' third foe, St. John's, next week in a tournament preview.
Until then, check out these pictures from today's afternoon practice session.
Conference USA Announces 2009 Preseason All-Conference Team (Aug. 12, 2009)
The selections for the 2009 C-USA Preseason All-Conference Team were revealed today. Rice, one of three 2008 NCAA Tournament qualifiers from the league, garnered the most selections with four. Defending conference champion Tulane received two nods. Additionally, Lucy Charuk of Houston and Meredith Schamun of Rice were named Co-Preseason Players-of-the-Year.
2009 Conference USA Preseason Team
Lucy Charuk, Houston, Middle Hitter, Junior
Elizabeth Fleming, Marshall, Setter, Junior
Emily Underwood, Memphis, Middle Hitter, Junior
Natalie Bogan, Rice, Middle Hitter, Senior
Tracey Lam, Rice, Libero, Junior
Ashleigh McCord, Rice, Outside Hitter, Sophomore
Meredith Schamun, Rice, Setter, Junior
Visnja Djurdjavic, Tulane, Outside Hitter, Sophomore
Jenn Miller, Tulane, Libero, Senior
Jennifer Eichler, Tulsa, Outside Hitter, Senior
Erin Campbell, UCF, Outside Hitter, Senior
Amy Sanders, UTEP, Outside Hitter, Junior
Pirates Serve Up First Preseason Workout Monday! (Aug. 10, 2009)
The 2009 season for the East Carolina volleyball team finally got underway today as the team convened for practice at Minges. The Pirates only lost one player off of last year's squad (libero Trish Monroe) so there is a lot of experience sprinkled throughout the 2009 roster.
Head coach Pati Rolf put the ladies through fitness testing in the morning before holding practice from 2-4 p.m. After warmups the squad scrimmaged for about an hour and half. There was a lot of good energy out there as the ladies officially broke out of the summer doldrums.
Check out the report below that summarizes today's activity.
GREENVILLE, N.C. - With temperatures soaring into the mid to upper 90's outside, the East Carolina volleyball team opened its 2009 campaign Monday afternoon with a practice inside Minges Coliseum.
"I am really impressed with the athletes that we have on this team," head coach Pati Rolf stated after the workout ended. "Our ladies are eager to learn and are excited about the things that we can accomplish as a team this season. I believe that we have a strong staff in place with the additions of Katie Virtue and Kelley Wernert and I am extremely optimistic about what lies ahead for East Carolina Volleyball."
After fitness testing in the morning, the squad conducted a two-hour session that featured fundamental work and three separate scrimmage periods. All 14 players on this year's roster participated in the workout, as redshirt freshmen Kelly Derby and Briana Fleener experienced their first collegiate action after sitting out last season due to injury.
The Pirates boast a quintet of seniors in Hannah Fenker, Katie Prast, Bobbie Jo Stall, Stephanie Turner and Melissa Zentner while juniors Erica Banning, Lizzy Bruin, Kylie Gilmore and Katie Koop will also provide upperclassmen leadership. The team's entire offense remains intact from 2008, as this year's squad features five outside hitters, five middle hitters and two setters. Additionally, the 2009 roster features no true freshmen, as ECU suffered its only loss in graduated libero Trish Monroe.
For the next 16 days, the Pirates will tackle two-a-day practices and continue their conditioning in preparation to build on a 2008 campaign in which they won 13 contests. East Carolina will then head to Richmond, Va. for the season-opening Third Degree Sportswear Invitational, hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University from Aug. 28-29 at the Siegel Center. The Pirates take on Wright State, St. John's and the host Rams during the two-day event.
Welcome to the 2009 East Carolina Volleyball Blog! (Aug. 7, 2009)
With the 2009 volleyball season rapidly approaching, ecupirates.com is set to unveil its first-ever volleyball-specific blog. The blog will be updated regularly with match previews, player insight, photos and additional material that will give fans a more in-depth look into East Carolina Volleyball. A link to the blog is easily accessible on the sidebar of the ecupirates.com volleyball team page.