Volleyball Serves Up 2009 Season In Richmond
Aug. 27, 2009
Friday, August 28 at 9:00 a.m. - ECU vs. Wright State
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 Aug. 28-29. 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 Sheriff 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.