Aug. 24, 2006
GREENVILLE, N.C. -- East Carolina volleyball opens the 2006 season Friday night as it hosts the East Carolina Invitational sponsored by City Hotel & Bistro. The tournament opens with Furman and Virginia Tech facing off at 4 p.m. before the Pirates officially start their season at 7 p.m. against William & Mary. ECU returns seven letterwinners from last year's team that finished 20-11.
ABOUT EAST CAROLINA
The Pirates are coming off one of the team's most successful seasons in school history under first-year head coach Chris Rushing.
East Carolina is coming off its first 20-win season since 1982, when the team won 24 matches.
Last year's squad recorded the team's first-ever top five finish in Conference USA.
The 2005 squad posted just the third-ever 20-win season in school history.
The Pirates welcome seven new players to the team this season: Stephanie Turner (East Amherst, N.Y.), Erica Banning (Greenville, N.C.), Holly Paton (Raleigh, N.C.), Hannah Fenker (New Castle, Ind.), Katie Prast (Burr Ridge, Ill.), Peyton Thompson (Plano, Texas), and Melissa Zentner (Naples, Fla.).
"We are excited about the caliber of this tournament," Rushing said. "We are playing three teams that are very similar to our Conference USA opponents. This tournament is definitely getting us ready for the regular season conference play. All three matches should be close and exciting.
"William & Mary beat us in a very close 2005 season opener in five games and I believe the players want a little revenge for that one. They will be a handful as they had a great 2005 season, finishing second in their conference. Furman returns everyone from their 2005 squad and are preseason picked second in the Southern Conference. This match will also be a tight one. We finish the tournament playing Virginia Tech. Playing an ACC team is always good for our program."
ABOUT WILLIAM & MARY
The Tribe finished with a 22-9 record last season and return two starters from last year's squad. They return the CAA Freshman-of-the-Year (Kim Mount) and the CAA Defensive Specialist-of-the-Year (Kathleen Hawley). Head coach Debbie Hill is entering her 29th season atop the Tribe volleyball program.
The Paladins return all seven starters from a 2005 team that finished 15-16 overall and posted a 9-9 Southern Conference record. Head coach Michelle Young is in her seventh season at the helm at Furman.
ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH
The Hokies open the 2006 season with a new head coach, Chris Riley. He takes over the reigns after a five-year stint at Towson. The Hokies finished the 2005 season with a record of 13-18. Senior Katie Esbrook was named to the 2006 ACC preseason all-conference squad. Esbrook has led the Hokies in hitting percentage for three straight years and in blocks two of the past three years.
"We have three quality teams coming in and we will play our hardest to come out victorious over all of them to earn the tournament championship," Rushing said. "I'd also like to thank our tournament sponsor, City Hotel & Bistro, for helping us run this great event."
UP NEXT FOR ECU
ECU travels to Charlottesville, Va. to compete in the University of Virginia Tournament. The Pirates will face Wright State on Friday, Sept. 1, and will play Georgetown and UVA on Saturday, Sept. 2.