Sept. 9, 2013
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GREENVILLE, N.C. –The East Carolina volleyball team travels to Buies Creek, N.C., to take on Campbell in a non-conference match on Tuesday, September 10 at 7 p.m. The Pirates enter the John W. Pope, Jr., Convocation Center with a 2-4 overall record, while the Camels own a 5-2 mark this season.
ECU will head to Buies Creek, N.C., to take on Campbell in a non-conference match on Tuesday, September 10, at 7 p.m. The Pirates enter the John W. Pope, Jr., Convocation Center with a 2-4 record, while the Camels own a 5-2 overall mark this season.
The Pirates and Camels will face off for the 42nd time in program history and East Carolina leads the all-time series 33-8. The last time ECU and Campbell met, the Camels emerged victorious in five sets, 3-2 (22-25, 33-31, 20-25, 25-20, 15-17), in both squad’s 2012 season opener at the East Carolina Classic. The Pirates are looking for their first win over Campbell since 2009 when ECU defeated the Camels, 3-1 (25-16, 19-25, 25-21, 25-23), in Buies Creek.
Last Time Out
The Pirates went 2-1 at the East Carolina Classic last weekend as ECU swept The Citadel and Morgan State, before dropping a 3-0 decision to Loyola Chicago. East Carolina hit .130 against The Citadel and was led by Nicole Willis who recorded a season-best 21 kills to go along with seven digs, two blocks, one ace and a .240 hitting percentage. Zarah Cecich was consistent for the Pirates as she notched her first-career double-double with 37 assists and 14 digs. ECU came back the following day and swept Morgan State as the Pirates hit .172 in that contest. Willis had a game-high 12 kills and 10 digs for a double-double, Cecich added 27 assists, and Shelby Beasley collected a match-high 20 digs in the win. The Pirates came up short against Loyola as ECU turned in a .144 hitting percentage in the setback. Willis, again, led the squad with a double-double (11 kills and a career-high 18 digs), while Beasley posted 10 digs and Kierra Lee-Dunson recorded a match-high six block assists.
About the Pirates
East Carolina owns a 2-4 record thus far after going 2-1 at the East Carolina Classic last weekend. The Pirates are currently hitting .112 as a team and have tallied 202 kills (11.22 per set), 283 digs (15.72 per set), 39.5 total blocks (2.19 per set), 190 assists (10.56 per set) and 24 service aces (1.33 per set). Senior opposite Nicole Willis leads the team with 75 kills to average 4.17 per set. She has also registered 50 digs (2.78 per set) and 13 blocks for 87.0 points. Senior libero Shelby Beasley paces the Pirates’ defense with 70 digs for an average of 3.89 per set. At setter, junior Zarah Cecich has tallied 114 assists (7.60 per set), 32 digs (2.13 per set), 11 kills, six blocks and three service aces on the year. Senior middle hitter Virginia Fitch has put up a team-best 19 total blocks to average 1.06 per set. She has tallied 18 block assists and one solo block. Fitch also has contributed 23 kills, four aces, three digs, and one assist.
Scouting the Camels
Campbell will host East Carolina Tuesday night and the Camels own a 5-2 overall record this season. Most recently, Campbell competed in the Hampton Inn of Holly Springs Invitational with wins over NC Central (3-0), Indiana State (3-2), and Georgetown (3-2). As a team, the Camels are hitting .192 and have collected 357 kills (12.31 per set), 547 digs (18.86 per set), 54.0 blocks (1.86 per set), 321 assists (11.07 per set), and 49 service aces. Campbell is 4-0 in five-set matches this season. Jessica Groen leads the Camels offensively with 88 kills (3.03 per set). She has also posted 45 digs, 14 blocks, nine aces and two assists for 105.0 points. Mary Crema owns 164 digs for a 5.66 per set average and Heather Wilson is the squad’s primary setter with 256 assists to average 8.83 per set.
Where There’s a Willis There’s a Way
Senior opposite hitter Nicole Willis owns a team-best 75 kills to average 4.17 per set. The Raleigh, N.C., native has also contributed 50 digs (2.78 per set), 13 blocks (0.72 per set), five aces and three assist in six matches for the Pirates. She has notched double digit kills in five out of six performances this season and most recently recorded two double-doubles in one day as she tallied 12 kills and 10 digs against Morgan State and 11 kills and a career-high 18 digs versus Loyola.
This season East Carolina is platooning junior Zarah Cecich and freshman Bella Borgiotti at setter. The duo have combined for 171 assists in the first six matches of the season. Over the weekend, Cecich had a career-game against The Citadel as she notched her first-career double-double with 37 assists and 14 digs. She finished the weekend with 79 assists for an average of 9.88 assists per set. Borgiotti saw action in three sets at the East Carolina Classic and accumulated 20 assists to average 6.67 per set. On the year, Cecich has registered 114 assists (7.60 per set), while Borgiotti has added 57 (6.33 per set).
Can You Dig It?
Senior libero Shelby Beasley leads ECU with 70 digs and is averaging 3.89 digs per set. Right behind her are senior outside hitter Whitney Campbell and senior opposite Nicole Willis who have amassed 50 digs each this season for an average of 2.78. As a team, the Pirates have accumulated 283 digs to average 15.72 per set.
Senior middle hitter Virginia Fitch has collected a team-best 19 blocks this year to average 1.06 per set. The Raleigh, N.C., native has one solo block and 18 blocks assists. Sophomore middle hitter Kierra Lee-Dunson owns 15 block assists for an average of 1.00 per set, while senior opposite Nicole Willis has posted 13 blocks (one solo and 12 blocks assists) to average 0.72 per set. The trio have helped the Pirates collect 39.5 total blocks on the year for an average of 2.19 per set.
All-Tourney All The Time
Nicole Willis and Shelby Beasley were named to the East Carolina Classic All-Tournament team for their performances over the weekend. The honors are the second such accolades for Beasley this season as she was named to the Wake Forest Deacon Invitational All-Tournament team the first weekend of the season. At the East Carolina Classic, Beasley totaled a team-best 43 digs to average 4.78 per set, while Willis led the squad offensively with 44 kills (4.89 per set). Willis also added 35 digs (3.89 per set), six total blocks, three service aces and two assists.
Head volleyball coach Julie Torbett, who was hired in February, is the 12th head coach in ECU volleyball history. Torbett came to ECU after a two-year stint at Winthrop where she guided the Eagles to a 20-8 Big South Conference record and a 34-24 overall mark. Prior to her time in Rock Hill, S.C., Torbett was at the helm of the UNC Asheville women’s volleyball program where she led the Bulldogs to 304 wins in 17 seasons from 1994-2011. She led Asheville to a pair of Big South regular-season championships, a No. 10 ranking in the NCAA South Region, and was named Big South Conference Coach-of-the-Year on two occasions (2002 and 2009). In 19 years as a head coach at the Division I level, Torbett has accumulated 338 career wins to become the winningest coach in Big South volleyball history. The former Penn State middle back and defensive specialist under legendary head coach Russ Rose helped the Nittany Lions to four Atlantic 10 championships, four NCAA Regional appearances, and a perfect 31-0 conference record before earning her degree in exercise and sport science in 1990.
ECU in the C-USA
This season the Pirates have ranked in the Conference USA top 10 in four statistical categories thus far. East Carolina is fifth in service aces with an average of 1.33 per set, sixth in digs per set with an average of 15.72, seventh in opponent hitting percentage as the Pirates have limited their counterparts to a .175 attack percentage, and eighth in blocks per set with an average of 2.19.
Pirates in the C-USA
Individually, ECU has two student-athletes who rank in the top 10 in Conference USA statistical categories this season. Seniors Shelby Beasley and Nicole Willis have both found their way into the top 10 as Willis is in third place with a 4.17 kills per set average and Beasley is in ninth with a 3.89 digs per set ratio.
2013 brings back 10 Pirate student-athletes from last season including senior opposite hitter Nicole Willis and senior defensive specialist/libero Shelby Beasley. Willis, was the team’s leader in almost every offensive category as she finished the year with 3.76 kills per set, 2.65 digs per set, 0.51 blocks per set and 0.26 service aces per set. Beasley led the Pirates with 430 digs to average 4.34 per set and added 22 aces (0.22 per set). Also returning to the friendly confines of Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum is senior outside hitter Whitney Campbell who registered 122 kills (1.34 per set), 126 digs (1.38 per set), 37 total blocks (0.41 per set) and 146.0 points as a junior. Junior setter Zarah Cecich is another of the Pirates’ 10 returnees. The Crown Point, Ind., native concluded her sophomore season with a team-best 395 assists to average 7.31 assists. Cecich also added 52 digs, 30 kills, 11 total block and eight service aces.
The Freshman Class
The Pirates signed four incoming freshman over the off season in Bella Borgiotti, Dayna Kramer, Ashley McRae, and Halee Wright. Borgiotti comes to Greenville after playing four years at George C. Marshall High School where she was named the team MVP as a senior setter. She also gained experience playing club volleyball for the Virginia Elite Vipers. Kramer is a three-time district champion out of Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio, Texas who plays opposite. She is a four-time academic all-district honoree and led the Rattlers to the Pearland Championships in her senior year. McRae is a middle hitter out of Bethesda Chevy Chase High School were she posted 117 kills as a senior to rank second on the team. After concluding the 2012 season with 50 solo blocks and a .389 hitting percentage, McRae was nominated for the County’s Senior All-Star game and was a Gazette Honorable Mention selection. Wright, a defensive specialist, played four years at Reynold High School and garnered first team all-conference honors as a senior. She was also named MVP at the end of her senior season.
All in the Family
There are a few East Carolina family connections on the roster again this season. Sophomore Torre Blake, who saw action in 45 sets last season, is the daughter of Jeff Blake who played football at ECU and proceeded to enjoy a lengthy NFL career. Additionally, Kierra and Sierra Lee-Dunson return to the Pirates this season after Kierra played in 29 sets and Sierra redshirted last year. 2013 marks the first season East Carolina will have a pair of twins on the court since Sarah and Jessica Vick donned purple and gold from 2001-03.
The “New” Conference USA
Conference USA was one of the many conferences that saw realignments over the summer. July 1, 2013 marked the addition of Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, LA Tech, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Old Dominion, and UTSA to C-USA. While the conference expanded with the eight new member institutions, it also parted ways with Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF as all four joined the American Athletic Conference. 2013 will mark the last year of ECU’s affiliation with Conference USA as the Pirates will join the American Athletic Conference beginning next season.
Following the Pirates’ mid-week match at Campbell, East Carolina will head to Elon for the Phoenix Classic which begins Friday, September 13 and concludes Saturday, September 14. ECU will kick off the tournament with a 4:30 p.m. match on Friday against NC Central. On Saturday, the Pirates will go up against Gardner-Webb at 10 a.m., before closing out the Classic with host Elon at 7 p.m.