Spikers Seek First C-USA Win At UCF
Oct. 8, 2010
ORLANDO, Fla. - Seeking its first league win of the 2010 season, the East Carolina volleyball team travels to Orlando, Fla., for a two-game set Oct. 9 and 10 with UCF. First serve for both matches is slated for 7 p.m. ET.
The Pirates (1-15, 0-4 C-USA) nearly knocked off UAB on the road last Friday as they rallied from two sets down to force a fifth frame. However, with the score tied at 10, the Blazers scored five of the last seven points to clinch the match. Then, on Sunday, Memphis held off ECU 3-1 at Minges Coliseum.
Redshirt junior Nicole Jones produced two solid efforts, picking up 40 digs for an average of 4.44 per set. Classmates Jackie Varnum and Amanda Lutzow also turned in notable performances with the former racking up a career and team season-best 18 kills Friday while the latter scored her fourth double-double of the year with 10 kills and 13 digs the same night.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION: UCF won its first seven matches of the campaign but since a 3-0 victory over Florida Atlantic, the Knights (7-9, 0-4 C-USA) have dropped nine-straight decisions - including their first four league bouts. Most recently, UCF fell 3-1 at Houston and at home against Rice, falling behind 2-0, winning the third set and losing the fourth both times. Kristin Fisher paces the Knight offense with 240 kills (4.36 per set) and has by far the most attempts with 637. To put it in perspective, the next highest number belongs to Evija Wilde with 386. Rachel Vukson has handled most of the setting duties for UCF, dishing out 484 assists for an average of 9.68 per frame. In the back row, Meredith Murphy has grabbed the most digs (233) while Tory McCutcheon has complemented the defense with 28 total blocks.
The Knights hit a respectable .205 as a team and churn out 1.17 service aces per set. UCF is also outdigging opponents 14.19 to 13.40 but have less blocks (119.5-99.5).
THE SERIES WITH UCF: The Pirates have won eight out of 11 meetings with the Knights. The teams split last season's two contests with each picking up a win on its home floor. The last win for East Carolina t UCF occurred in 2007 when the Pirates triumphed 3-0 (30-18, 30-13, 30-18). That match marked the first-ever athletic contest in the new UCF Arena. In all, ECU is 3-2 when playing the Knights in Orlando.
LOOKING FOR A LIBERO: Three Pirates have handled the libero duties this season. Shelby Beasley was first up, starting the first eight matches before Marina Gusman-Brown earned the next six. Last weekend, Jones took over and snatched the aforementioned 40 digs over nine sets.
WELCOME TO THE STAFF: Jackie Simpson, a two-time AVCA All-America setter and University of Wisconsin alumna, has joined the staff as a volunteer assistant coach for the remainder of the season. She finished her career in a Badger uniform ranked second all-time in career assists and ranks in the top 10 on the career charts for the Big Ten Conference. As the four-year starting setter, she led Wisconsin to a pair of Elite Eight appearances and a Sweet Sixteen showing.
SPEAKING OF BLOCKING...: In a 2010 season full of frustration, one positive has remained constant for the Pirates - team blocking. In defeating the Bearcats, East Carolina owned a 17-5 advantage at the net. So far this season, ECU is averaging nearly two blocks pet set (1.96) while its opponents have just 1.84 per frame. In the league rankings, the Pirates are fourth in the statistic.
UP NEXT FOR ECU: The Pirates return to Minges Coliseum next weekend, Oct. 15 and 17, as the league's two top teams come calling. ECU will face off against second-place SMU Friday before confronting Tulsa, who currently owns a 5-0 C-USA ledger, Sunday.