ECU Volleyball Travels to Elon for Phoenix Classic

UABSPORTS.COM Virginia Fitch
Virginia Fitch

Sept. 12, 2013

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The Last Meeting
East Carolina3
North Carolina Central0
September 4, 2008
Durham, N.C.
Volleyball Sweeps Again, Moves To 4-0
GREENVILLE, N.C. - The East Carolina volleyball team went on its first road trip of 2008, but the results remained the same - another 3-0 sweep of an opponent. The Pirates traveled to Durham, N.C. on Thursday to face North Carolina Central University and walked out of McLendon-McDougald Gymnasium with another sweep.

The Last Meeting
East Carolina3
August 26, 2011
Greenville, N.C.
Volleyball Posts 3-1 Victory In Opener
Two seniors led the way on offense with double-digit kill performances Friday as East Carolina opened its 2011 campaign with a 3-1 (25-20, 16-25, 25-20, 25-21) win over Gardner-Webb at Minges Coliseum.

The Last Meeting
East Carolina1
September 8, 2012
Durham, N.C.

GREENVILLE, N.C. –The East Carolina volleyball team heads to Elon, N.C., to compete in the Phoenix Classic on Friday, September 13, and Saturday, September 14. The Pirates will go up against NC Central on Friday at 4:30 p.m., before battling it out with Gardner-Webb and host Elon on Saturday at 10 a.m., and 7 p.m., respectively.

The Phoenix Classic
ECU heads to Elon, N.C., to compete in the Phoenix Classic on Friday, September 13, and Saturday, September 14. The Pirates will go up against NC Central on Friday at 4:30 p.m., before battling it out with Gardner-Webb and host Elon on Saturday at 10 a.m., and 7 p.m., respectively.

The Series vs. NC Central
The Pirates and the Eagles will meet for just the third time in program history. NC Central is looking for its first-ever win over ECU as the Pirates lead the all-time series 2-0. Friday’s match-up between the Pirates and Eagles will mark the first meeting since 2008 when East Carolina swept NC Central, 3-0 (25-18, 25-10, 25-19), in Durham, N.C. The only other time the two teams faced each other was in 1979 when the Pirates held off the Eagles, 2-0 (15-6, 15-7), at the ECU Tournament.

The Series vs. Gardner-Webb
East Carolina and the Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb will go head-to-head for the third time in program history and ECU leads the all-time series 2-0. The Pirates defeated the Bulldogs, first, in 2003 at the Furman Tournament where East Carolina swept Gardner-Webb, 3-0 (30-18, 30-18, 30-28), and most recently during the 2011 season opener with a 3-1 (25-20, 16-25, 25-20, 25-21) win in Greenville, N.C.

The Series vs. Elon
ECU and Elon will face off for the eighth time in program history and the Phoenix hold a slight edge on the Pirates as they lead the all-time series 4-3. Last season, ECU dropped a 3-1 (16-25, 25-18, 21-25, 17-25) decision to Elon at the Duke Invitational. The Pirates are looking for their first win over Elon since 1997 when ECU held off the Phoenix, 3-1 (4-15, 15-10, 15-6, 15-11), in Greenville. The Pirates won the first three contests over the Phoenix, however, Elon has emerged victorious in the last four meetings.

Last Time Out
The Pirates are looking to get back on the winning track after falling in four sets (25-21, 14-25, 28-30, 19-25) at Campbell during a mid-week contest. Despite the loss, the Pirates turned in several career-performances in the setback. Senior opposite hitter Nicole Willis recorded her third-straight match with a double-double as she led the Pirates with match-high 19 kills and a career-high 20 digs. Additionally, freshman setter Bella Borgiotti collected her first collegiate double-double with a career-best 22 assists and 10 digs. Senior outside hitter Whitney Campbell notched a new career-best for herself with 22 digs and was just shy of a double-double as she posted nine kills. Sophomore outside hitter Torre Blake tallied a career-best 10 kills, while sophomore middle hitter Kierra Lee-Dunson collected a career-best seven kills en route to hitting a match-high .700, and senior libero Shelby Beasley led the Pirates with a match-high 25 digs. ECU won set one with a strong showing, but dropped hard-fought sets two, three and four to the host Camels.

About the Pirates
East Carolina owns a 2-5 record thus far as the Pirates have swept both The Citadel and Morgan State for their first back-to-back wins since 2009. ECU has fallen to Wake Forest, UNC Greensboro, East Tennessee State, Loyola Chicago, and Campbell. Senior opposite Nicole Willis leads the team offensively with 94 kills to average 4.27 kills per set. Defensively, senior libero Shelby Beasley has paced the back row with a team-best 95 digs (4.32 per set). At setter, junior Zarah Cecich and freshman Bella Borgiotti have combined for 212 assists. Cecich is averaging 7.82 assists per set, while Borgiotti owns a 6.58 ratio. At the net, the Pirates are led by middle hitters Virginia Fitch (22 blocks) and Kierra Lee-Dunson (20 blocks). As a team, ECU is averaging 11.36 kills per set, 17.27 digs per set, 10.82 assists per set and 2.16 blocks per set.

Scouting the Eagles
NC Central enters the Phoenix Classic looking for its first win of the 2013 season as the Eagles hold an 0-8 overall record. Da’sha Brown is the Eagles’ leading scorer with a team-best 55 kills to average 2.29 kills per set. She also ties for the team lead in digs with 46 (1.92 per set) and owns five total blocks, four assists and three service aces. Alice Genna is the other half who leads the Eagles on defense with 46 digs. Genna is NC Central’s primary setter as she has amassed a team-best 109 assists to average 4.54 per set. Ashley McCarthy and Kalin Russell own 17 and 15 total blocks for the Eagles. NC Central is struggling offensively with a .067 hitting percentage, 186 kills (7.8 per set) and 163 assists (6.8 per set). The Eagles have accumulated 263 digs to average 11.0 per set and hold a slight edge over their opponents in blocks with 1.5 to their counterparts’ 1.4.

Scouting the Bulldogs
Gardner-Webb comes into the Phoenix Classic as the winningest team with a 4-5 overall record. The Bulldogs have collected victories over Montreal College (3-0), William & Mary (3-1), Kent State (3-1) and Western Carolina (3-1). Erin Anderson is the team’s leader in kills with 89 to average 2.78 kills per set. She also has contributed 63 digs (1.97 per set), 11 total blocks (0.34 per set), three aces and one assist for 99.0 points. Anna Pashkova has been solid on defense collecting 153 digs to average 4.78 per set. She has also registered 20 assists, three service aces and one kill. Heather Feldman is the Bulldogs’ setter with 311 assists to average 9.72 per set. Feldman also has posted 73 digs (2.28 per set), 11 total blocks (0.34 per set), 15 kills (0.47 per set), and four service aces. Gardner-Webb is hitting .179 and has tallied 11.66 kills per set to go along with 10.91 assists per set, 14.75 digs per set, and 1.84 blocks per set.

Scouting the Phoenix
Elon, the host of the tournament, owns a 2-6 overall record with its two victories coming at the hands of Navy (3-0) and Campbell (3-0). Kris Harris leads the Phoenix with 78 kills to average 2.52 per set while also recording 17 digs, 15 total blocks and a .327 hitting percentage. Morgan Maner and Maggie Reichard lead the team with 85 digs each and both average 2.74 digs per set. Setter Ana Nicksic leads the Phoenix in assists with 191 to average 6.16. She has also contributed 53 digs and 10 kills. Elon is hitting .173 as a team and is averaging 11.5 kills per set, 10.5 assists per set, 12.5 digs per set and 2.0 blocks per set on the year.

Where There’s a Willis There’s a Way
Senior opposite hitter Nicole Willis owns a team-best 94 kills to average 4.27 per set. The Raleigh, N.C., native has also contributed 70 digs (3.18 per set), 15 blocks (0.68 per set), five aces and six assists for the Pirates. She has notched double digit kills in six out of seven contests this season and most recently recorded three consecutive double-doubles. In her most recent double-double, Willis tallied a match-high 19 kills and a career-best 20 digs in ECU’s 3-1 loss at Campbell.

Helping Hands
This season East Carolina is platooning junior Zarah Cecich and freshman Bella Borgiotti at setter. The duo have combined for 212 assists in the first seven 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 currently owns 133 assists for an average of 7.82 assists per set. Borgiotti also turned in a career-performance as she notched her first-collegiate double-double with a career-best 22 assists and 10 digs at Campbell. On the year, Borgiotti has posted 79 assists to average 6.58 per set.

Can You Dig It?
Senior libero Shelby Beasley leads ECU with 95 digs and is averaging 4.32 digs per set. Right behind her are senior outside hitter Whitney Campbell (72 digs) and senior opposite Nicole Willis (70 digs). Campbell is averaging 3.27 digs per set, while Willis has a 3.18 ratio. As a team, the Pirates have accumulated 380 digs to average 17.27 per set.

Block Party
Senior middle hitter Virginia Fitch has collected a team-best 22 blocks this year to average 1.00 per set. The Raleigh, N.C., native has one solo block and 21 blocks assists. Sophomore middle hitter Kierra Lee-Dunson owns 20 block assists for an average of 1.05 per set. The duo have helped the Pirates collect 47.5 total blocks on the year for an average of 2.16 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 Deacon Invitational All-Tournament team the first weekend of the season. At the ECU 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.

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 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.

New Leader
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.

Coming Up...
Following the Elon Phoenix Classic, the Pirates will travel to North Carolina Central for a mid-week non-conference match on Tuesday, September 17. First serve is set for 7 p.m. in Durham, N.C. East Carolina and NC Central will be meeting for just the fourth time in program history and for the second time in four days.