Pirate Volleyball Holds First Workouts Of The New Season

UABSPORTS.COM Kelly Derby is the lone senior is this year's team
Kelly Derby is the lone senior is this year's team

Aug. 8, 2012

GREENVILLE, N.C. - The East Carolina volleyball team held its first official workouts of the fall season Wednesday with just 17 days to prepare for its first match of the 2012 season. The Pirates welcome eight newcomers and return seven lettermen from last year's squad.

"We've got kids from all over the place, so at first we're going to focus on building up the team concept," said Pirate head coach Pati Rolf. "Our goal is to get them playing together and functioning as a unit. We'll be doing more tactical work instead of technical work the next couple of weeks."

Among the returnees are middle hitter Kelly Derby, the team's lone senior, along with juniors Hannah Allgood, Shelby Beasley and Whitney Campbell. Derby ranked 13th in Conference USA in blocks per set (0.95) last season, while leading the team in total blocks (87), block assists (75) and solo blocks (12). Allgood was the team's second-leading blocker in league play, while Campbell played in the most sets (96) of any player on the roster.

As the team's primary defensive specialist, Beasley averaged 3.62 digs per game to rank 12th in C-USA. She played in 92 of the Pirates' 98 sets and made just one start. She recorded a team-best 333 digs and tied for second on the team with 13 services aces.

The roster is also dotted with a trio of sophomore setters: Zarah Cecich, Kasey Kavanaugh and Andrea Queck. Cecich led the team in assists (382), ranking 13th in the conference with 5.31 assists per set. Splitting duties between setter and outside hitter, Kavanaugh finished the 2011 season ranked second on the squad in assists (343) and assists per set (4.45) as well as tied for second in total blocks (47) and third in blocks per set (0.61). Queck experienced limited action, playing in just 12 matches.



Among the new faces are three transfers from four-year schools. That trio is comprised of middle hitter Virginia Fitch (American), defensive specialist Katie Gratale (UNC Wilmington) and outside hitter Nicole Willis, who helped LSU win the SEC Western Division title.

Rounding out the 2012 squad are five freshmen, including twin sisters Kierra and Sierra Lee-Dunson of Atlanta. The Lee-Dunson sisters and Torre Blake (Austin, Texas), daughter of ECU Athletics Hall Of Fame quarterback Jeff Blake, were the first to sign with the Pirates during the early period. Erika Figueroa (Orlando, Fla.) and Carleigh Green (London, Ohio) each made her commitment during the spring period.

"The culture is changing," Rolf stated. "A lot of the girls were here for both summer sessions training, so we are in tremendous shape. We're actually physically not having to as much work as we have in the past."

After two-a-day workouts on Wednesday and Thursday, the team will head to Cape Hatteras Friday through Sunday for its annual preseason retreat. The season opens Friday, Aug. 24, as the Pirates host the East Carolina Classic. ECU tips off the season with a match against Campbell that evening at 7 p.m. before facing Bethune-Cookman (1 p.m.) and Charlotte (7 p.m.) on Saturday.