Nov. 18, 2011
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GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina begins a season-ending three-match homestand this weekend, welcoming UAB and Memphis to Minges Coliseum for a pair of Conference USA contests. The Pirates face the Blazers Friday at 7 p.m., before taking on the Tigers Sunday at 1 p.m.
East Carolina enters the weekend still searching for its first league win. The Pirates traveled to UTEP and UCF last weekend, falling 3-0 and 3-1 respectively. ECU came up empty in its earlier trips to Memphis and UAB this season, dropping three-set decisions in both contests. The Pirates nearly picked up their first C-USA victory the last weekend they played at Minges Coliseum, holding a 2-0 lead over Tulane before allowing the Green Wave to rally and win in five.
Britney Roper has paced the offense this season with 180 kills (2.14 k/s), but ECU's most consistent play lies in its blocking. The Pirates average 2.10 blocks, led by Kelly Derby who owns a mark of 0.96 per set. Shelby Beasley tops the defense for ECU with 307 digs, while Amanda Lutzow has also registered 230.
The Blazers have won three of their last five matches, including sweeps of UTEP and Tulane at home. UAB has also eclipsed the 20-win mark this year, having compiled a record of 21-8 and a league ledger of 11-6. Sam Serley is the top offensive threat for the Blazers as she has put down 261 kills. Defensively, Heather Thomas has racked up 570 digs for an impressive per set average of 5.33. UAB also excels in blocking, with a team mark of 2.82 per frame and is led by Kiriana Hirini's average of 1.67 per set. As a team, the Blazers have produced season marks of 12.49 kills, 1.13 aces, 16.62 digs and 2.82 blocks each frame.
The Tigers split a pair of home matches last weekend and have lost three of their last five overall. Memphis downed Tulane in four sets but fell short against Southern Miss by a 3-1 score. Altrese Hawkins and Hajnalka Molnar led the Tigers in the win against Tulane on Friday. Hawkins downed 24 kills while hitting .439 and Molnar registered a double-double of 55 assists and 13 digs. Hawkins owns by far the top offensive output this season for Memphis as she has tallied 479 kills for an average of 4.39 per set. Molnar is having a solid campaign as well, having dished out 1,295 assists (11.8 a/s). As a team, the Tigers are tough servers with 176 aces to their credit but have also committed 312 service errors.
Last Time Against the Blazers:
East Carolina's road woes continued as UAB recorded a 3-0 win at Bartow Arena. Jackie Varnum led the way on offense with five kills to go along with four-kill performances by Kelly Derby and Whitney Campbell. In the back row, Shelby Beasley collected a match-high 17 digs, averaging 5.67 per set. Varnum also added three total blocks to her output. ECU struggled offensively, downing just 21 kills as compared to 44 for the home side. The Blazers also held the upper hand in digs (54-45) and total blocks (11.0-5.0).
Last Time Against the Tigers:
Memphis put together significant scoring runs in each set to down East Carolina, 3-0, at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse. Kelly Derby nearly put together a flawless offensive showing, recording a team-best eight kills on 14 attempts with just one error in the third set to produce a .500 mark. Sophomore Shelby Beasley paced the back row with 10 digs. The Tigers posted advantages in almost every category, including kills, assists, service aces, digs and blocks.
Up Next For ECU:
East Carolina closes the 2011 season Wednesday, Nov. 23 with a rematch against league rival Marshall. First serve at Minges Coliseum is scheduled for 6 p.m. The Herd grabbed a 3-1 win in Huntington earlier this year in both teams' C-USA opener.