The East Carolina University Pirates volleyball team took to Fairfax, Virginia this weekend claiming two victories after finding out that they would not make it to Puerto Rico due to the oncoming hurricane.
ECU was supposed to open up their season against George Mason University, Providence College and the University of Evansville, but the teams were not able to make it to Puerto Rico as the tournament would be cancelled due to Hurricane Dorian. However, the Patriots, Friars and Pirates met up at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. in order to have a start to their 2019 season.
To begin their weekend, ECU took on George Mason. The Patriots put on a good fight against the Pirates as each set was a close fought battle. The Pirates ended up sweeping them 3-0 but the sets were tight, 26-24, 25-22 and 25-23.
"It was an unusual set up having to play back-to-back matches," head coach Julie Torbett said. "We were able to sweep the first match and have time to prepare for Providence. We definitely remembered losing to (the Friars) two years ago and wanted to right that wrong.”
Notably, junior right side hitter Bri Wood took charge in the sweep against Mason as she would have 16 kills on 31 attempts with only one error. Wood had a .484 hitting percentage to end the match and also had nine digs. Junior outside hitter Sydney Kleinman would also have an impact as she produced 11 kills, seven digs and four aces.
"I feel like our pins did an amazing job terminating balls and our hitting percentage was very high," Torbett stated. "Bri and Sydney (Kleinman) are hitting and passing all six rotations so it was great to see minimal errors from them. Our middles did a good job and hit for a high percentage, but we didn't find them enough."
Junior setter Shelby Martin received the first double-double of the season as she had 28 assists and 13 digs. To add to her stats, she also took with her two aces of her own.
As a team, the Pirates had 46 kills and only 10 errors on 119 attempts. This allotted for them to have a .303 hitting percentage. The Patriots on the other hand had 46 kills as well and took control in digs as they would have 55 to ECU’s 43.
First Match? First Dub. ECU defeats George Mason 3-0 (26-24, 25-22, 25-23) on the road to open the season! We will play Providence to wrap up the day at 2 p.m. ☠️ pic.twitter.com/uxf6PtNV2J— ECU Volleyball (@ECUVB) September 1, 2019
Immediately following their head to head with the Patriots, the Pirates went to take on Providence. This match was a true battle between the two teams as the Pirates would go to win three sets to two. The sets were tight and hard fought (25-21, 23-25, 25-16, 18-25, 15-9).
The outside hitters had a busy match as both Wood and Kleinman put down 19 kills each and had hitting percentages of .415 and .341. Kleinman also had a career-high 23 digs for her first double-double of the season and also had four more aces. Wood also would finish off her double-double with 12 digs.
Martin would also earn herself a double-double as she had 28 assists and 10 digs. Redshirt junior defensive specialist libero Brandee Markwith had a 22-dig effort while junior setter Marissa Harmon had 28 assists and five digs.
East Carolina had another high percentage following the Mason match as they had 70 kills on 171 swings with 20 errors. This allotted them to have a .292 hitting percentage to Providence’s .288. Both teams finished with five blocks each, but ECU took it defensively with 82 digs to the Friars’ 73.
"Both setters did nicely delivering the ball. We have a lot of options offensively but there are a few things we need to work on defensively,” Torbett said. “We did come back though and out-dig a scrappy Providence team that got some balls up that honestly should have been down. We were better in almost every category on the stat sheet though and won the match in five, something we didn't do all of last season."
The Pirates will continue their season next weekend as they will take part in the UNF Invitational in Jacksonville, Florida. The Pirates will go on to face Mercer University, Wake Forest University and University of North Florida over Friday and Saturday.