GREENVILLE, N.C. – The East Carolina volleyball team makes its home debut this weekend, welcoming Appalachian State, Bethune-Cookman and Campbell to Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum for the 2023 Pirate Invitational.
ECU is slated to face Campbell Thursday (Aug. 31) at 7 p.m., Bethune-Cookman Friday at 7 p.m. and Appalachian State Saturday at 3 p.m. The matches against the Wildcats (Friday) and Mountaineers (Saturday) will stream live through ESPN+ while Thursday’s bout with the Camels will air via Pirates All-Access. Live stats will be available for all six of the tournament’s contests.
East Carolina opened its 2023 campaign last weekend in Statesboro, Ga., at the Bash in the Boro on the campus of Georgia Southern University. The Pirates swept UNC Greensboro twice while falling in three sets to the host Eagles. After a tough first frame in the Georgia Southern match, ECU dropped the final two sets by two points each.
All-American Athletic Conference Preseason Team selection and sophomore outside Angeles Alderete paces the squad offensive through three matches, averaging 3.22 points and 2.67 kills per set. Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Izzy Marinelli enjoyed a nice start to her second campaign in the Purple and Gold, hitting a stout .386 and putting up 2.22 kills per set. On the defensive end, junior libero Tia Shum put in her first work since the 2021 season, averaging 5.13 digs per set, while sophomore middle blocker Carlia Northcross was very solid, hitting .375 and notching 1.11 blocks per set. Freshmen Farah Farooq (middle blocker) and Ellie Pate (outside hitter) also received their first extended collegiate playing time, both firing at a .333 clip offensively.
The Pirates have a trio of players ranked among the American Conference leaders through one week as Shum slots third in digs per set, Marinelli sits sixth in hitting percentage and Northcross is ninth in blocks per set. Collectively, East Carolina ranks in the top half of the league in hitting percentage (fifth/.243), opposing hitting percentage (fifth/.156), service aces per set (fifth/1.78), kills per set (sixth/12.56), blocks per set (seventh/2.11) and digs per set (seventh/15.78).
A Look At App State
App State emerged from its opening weekend of play with a 3-0 record, sweeping William & Mary, Bellarmine and Tennessee Tech at its own Mountaineer Classic in Boone. McCall Denny paces the App State offense thus far with 25 kills (2.78 per set) while four Mountaineer players are putting up at least 2.00 kills per set. Kenady Roper has been the top defensive performer, chipping in with 29 digs (3.22 per set). App State is hitting a stout .283 with 12.44 kills per set as a unit.
The App State Series
East Carolina leads the series with App State 12-11, including a 7-1 record in Greenville. The teams last met on Sept. 18, 2021, when the Pirates swept the Mountaineers as part of the Pirate Invitational.
Bethune-Cookman hosted the Bash at the Beach tournament last weekend, falling twice to Marshall and once to The Citadel – all in three sets. The Wildcats struggled offensively, hitting just .101 with an average of 7.89 kills per set. Bethune-Cookman did excel at the net, putting up 28.0 blocks for an average of 3.11 per set. Jasmine Moore amassed a team high 17 kills (1.89 per set) while Essence Bell notched 28 digs (4.67 per set). Niara Hightower also checks in with a squad-high 1.44 blocks per set.
The Bethune-Cookman Series
ECU is 3-0 all time versus Bethune-Cookman. The Pirates last faced the Wildcats on Aug. 5, 2012, at the East Carolina Classic in Greenville.
Campbell heads to Minges Coliseum with an 0-3 record, taking on a tough field at the Buffs Invitational last weekend, losing to North Texas, host Colorado and UNLV. Gwen Wolkow collected a team-high 32 kills (2.67 per set) and added five service aces. Claranne Fletcher anchored the defense with a 3.67 digs per set average (44 total) to go along with Aley Clent’s squad-best 11.0 total blocks. The Camels hit .155 as a team and allowed their opponents to fire at a .268 clip.
The Campbell Series
Thursday night’s match with Campbell marks the 45th meeting between the institutions. East Carolina holds a 35-9 advantage in the series and has won seven of the last 10 encounters. Most recently, the Pirates knocked off the Camels 3-0 at home back on Sept. 25, 2019, in a midweek non-conference showdown.
East Carolina Picked To Finish Second In AAC East Division
The Pirates have been tabbed to place second in the East Division of the American Athletic Conference this season according to a release of the preseason coaches poll Aug. 21. ECU garnered 70 points and five first-place votes, slotting just behind Memphis. The Tigers collected seven first-place votes and 72 points. Florida Atlantic and Temple tied for third place in the division, followed by South Florida, UAB and Charlotte. SMU is the favorite in the West Division and earned seven votes to win the overall regular season title and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Rice, the 2022 Conference USA Tournament champion, received six votes to take the regular season crown.
Record – 2-1 (.667) // AAC Record – 0-0 (.000) // Last 5 Matches – 0-0 (.000) // Last 10 Matches – 0-0 (.000) // Last 15 Matches – 0-0 (.000) // ECU will play the 77th match of the Adler Augustin era when it hosts Campbell Thursday night. // The Pirates’ all-time record stands at 558-856 as the program begins its 46th season of competition.
East Carolina faces off with Norfolk State Friday, Sept. 8, at 10 a.m. to begin the Hampton Inn and Suites Seahawk Classic. The two-day event is hosted by in-state rival UNCW.