East Carolina Volleyball Preview: Part Two
Aug. 25, 2010
GREENVILLE, N.C. - This is the second of two installments previewing the 2010 East Carolina volleyball team's season.
The Pirates kick off the campaign Friday at 7 p.m. against Charlotte as part of the East Carolina Classic at Minges Coliseum.
Redshirt junior Nicole Jones was recently promoted to scholarship status and for good reason. She leads a trio of back row players that grew instantly better by the addition of freshmen Shelby Beasley and Amy Shelton.
Jones played 92 sets for the Pirates last season, averaging 2.18 digs per set and was third on the squad with 201 - a 169-dig improvement from her initial season with the program. She set a career high in the first match of 2009 against Wright State, collecting a team-best 17. Jones also recorded double-digit digs eight times, including two of her last three matches. According to the coaching staff, she has put in extra work this summer that will help her improve even more.
Beasley brings USA Volleyball High Performance experience to ECU, helping Team Florida to a second-place finish in the Gold Division. She was a standout defensive specialist at Lake Howell High School, leading the Silver Hawks to a 98-23 ledger and owning school records for the most digs in a match, season and career. Beasley capped off her prep career in 2009 with a 1,286-dig performance, which earned her the third of three all-conference nods. The Silver Hawks were no strangers to the state final four, reaching it three times during Beasley's time with the team.
One of two spring signees, Shelton brings excellent credentials to Greenville and the Pirates. She helped North Iredell High School to the North Carolina 3A state title in 2008 while the Raiders also picked up a pair of conference titles. During the championship season, North Iredell did not drop a single set. In Shelton's three years with the program, the Raiders racked up a 68-9 record. She was an all-conference athlete her senior year and owned the best serve-receive and dig percentages on the squad.
Having two rookie setters could make any coach nervous, but Kasey Kavanaugh and Andrea Queck gained valuable experience at the USA Volleyball High Performance Championships in Wisconsin just weeks ago and the staff is excited about the duo's potential at the collegiate level.
Kavanaugh, a highly-touted prospect from Chugiak, Alaska, led Chugiak High School to a 40-15 record in four seasons, including an appearance in the 2008 Alaska 4A state championship game as well as a Cook Inlet Conference and region championship last season. She earned the school's rookie-of-the-year, most promising and most inspirational awards before being named best setter in the state in 2008. Kavanaugh also owns experience with the Select A2, Youth Holiday and Junior Holiday High Performance camps as well as the Youth A2 and Continental Team Championship tournaments.
As one of six North Carolina products on the roster, Queck will provide the Pirates with a nice option not only at the setter position, but also other places on the court. In her final prep season at Myers Park High School in Charlotte, she collected 98 kills, 46 aces, 59 blocks, 73 digs and 668 assists. The Mustangs were 64-12 with Queck as a member of the roster and the team reached the North Carolina 4A state championship game while never failing to reach the quarterfinal round. She gained valuable experience with the Carolina Region High Performance Team this past summer and was awarded with a selection to the North Carolina Senior All-Star Tournament.
After hosting just eight matches at Minges Coliseum last season, ECU will enjoy 13 appearances at home as part of its 2010 schedule. The slate also features the return of the East Carolina Classic and the elimination of the Conference USA Tournament.
The Pirates serve up the season in Greenville, welcoming Charlotte, 2009 Horizon League regular season champion Cleveland State and Liberty for the East Carolina Classic. ECU begins the tournament against the in-state rival 49ers Friday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. before completing the event Saturday.
East Carolina's non-conference schedule also includes tournaments at Delaware, Georgetown and Wake Forest. Binghamton, whom the Pirates will battle while in Washington, D.C., advanced to the NCAA Tournament after winning the 2009 America East Tournament title.
Conference USA play begins Saturday, Sept. 25 when ECU hosts UTEP. The Pirates and Miners will also play the following afternoon. Due to the elimination of the league tournament, conference squads now must navigate a 20-match slate after which the regular season champion receives C-USA's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
East Carolina will also welcome Memphis, SMU, Tulsa, Rice, Houston, Southern Miss, Tulane and Marshall to Greenville while traveling to UAB, UCF and making the return trip to the other institutions.
The 2010 NCAA Tournament first and second rounds are scheduled for Dec. 2-5 at various sites around the nation while the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., hosts the Final Four two weeks later.