Pirates Head To Rice For Volleyball Twinbill

UABSPORTS.COM Senior Amanda Lutzow has produced a team-leading three double-double this season.
Senior Amanda Lutzow has produced a team-leading three double-double this season.

Nov. 3, 2011

Matches 23-24: at Rice
Dates Saturday, Nov. 5 | Sunday, Nov. 6
Times 7:30 p.m. | 3:00 p.m.
Location Houston, Texas (Tudor Fieldhouse)
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HOUSTON, Texas - East Carolina embarks on its last road trip of the season, traveling to Houston for a pair of matches with Rice. The Pirates and Owls will face off Saturday, Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. before ending the set the next day at 3 p.m.

East Carolina enters the weekend having dropped its last 17 matches and is still searching for its first league win. The Pirates nearly knocked off Tulane last Friday, holding a two sets to none lead, but the Green Wave rallied for a 3-2 victory at Minges Coliseum. ECU then fell in three sets to Southern Miss Sunday. Rice leads the series between the schools 5-3 and the Owls won both meetings last season 3-1.

Senior Britney Roper leads the team with a 2.11 kills per set average with a squad-high 150 kills while Kelly Derby follows at 1.74 kills per set (122 total). Derby also sports ECU's highest hitting percentage at .189. Defensively, Shelby Beasley paces the Pirates with 279 digs (3.67 d/s), a mark which is good for 10th in the league. Running the offense is freshman Zarah Cecich, who has dished out 337 assists for a 5.27 average.

Rice split its matches last weekend with a 3-0 win at UTEP on Friday as Nancy Cole led the Owls with 15 kills and a .433 hitting percentage. UCF then defeated Rice 3-1 on Sunday in Orlando. Lizzy Bache led the Owls with 13 kills and Jillian Humphrey had 10 kills and 10 blocks (3,7).

Rice features a balanced attack as evidence by three Owls who continue to average over 2.00 kills per set. Junior middle blocker Nancy Cole leads the squad with 278 kills and a 3.05 kills per set, junior Laurie McNamara follows at 2.49 (227 kills), while freshman Lizzy Bache averages 2.30 kills per set (200 kills). Jillian Humphrey is close at 1.99 kps (181 kills). Humphrey (106) and Cole (89) lead Rice in blocking. Setter Megan Murphy is averaging 10.69 assists per set, while Megan White leads the Owl defense with at 4.49 digs per set. As a team, Rice is hitting .227 while averaging 16.63 digs per set - good for third in the league.

East Carolina won the third set after dropping the first two to force a fourth frame, but Rice recovered to clinch the match (25-21, 25-9, 22-25, 25-9) at Tudor Fieldhouse. Junior Amanda Lutzow paced the offense with 10 kills while classmate Nicole Jones picked up 13 digs. At the net, freshman Kasey Kavanaugh racked up two solo blocks. Rice put down 59 kills on 131 attempts to post a .282 hitting mark as compared to a .076 showing by ECU. The Owls also held the advantage in digs (62-41) and service aces (4-3) but the Pirates had the best of the blocking 9-6.

ALL-TOURNAMENT HONORS Redshirt junior Kelly Derby has been named to three all-tournament squads this season at the Jefferson Cup, UNCW Mayfaire Tournament and the Thunder Invitational. The middle hitter is attacking at a .301 clip this season, a team high, and is second on the squad with 30 total blocks. Additionally, Derby has committed just 12 errors on 146 attempts in 2011.

With the 3-1 victory over UNC Wilmington at Hanover Hall, the Pirates captured their first true road win since defeating Campbell in four sets at Gore Arena on Sept. 22, 2009.

In the three matches against Virginia, Long Island and No. 1 California at the Jefferson Cup, East Carolina out-blocked and committed less attacking errors than all of its opponents, but ended up on the losing side in part to getting out-dug, tallying less kills and siding out at a lower percentage.

GETTING IN ON THE ACTION Freshman Zarah Cecich played in two sets in the Jefferson Cup, experiencing her first extended action of her collegiate career. She posted two kills and dished out 12 assists to go along with seven digs and three block assists. Cecich also started the first contest of her career at UNC Wilmington, dishing out 25 assists and leading the Pirates to a four-set victory. The Indiana native has served as ECU's setter the last 14 matches.

Head Coach Pati Rolf was selected to referee two major international volleyball tournaments this summer - the Montreux Volley Masters in Switzerland and the FIVB Women's Junior World Championship in Lima, Peru.

Entering this season, Rolf was one of just 46 active Division I head coaches to amass more than 400 wins in her career.

East Carolina closes its road schedule next weekend, making the trek to El Paso and Orlando to meet UTEP and UCF. The Pirates look to avenge a pair of 3-0 losses to the Miners and Knights in Greenville earlier this season.