GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina begins its fourth season under the direction of head coach Adler Augustin Friday (Aug. 25) when it commences play at the Bash in the Boro tournament hosted by Georgia Southern University.

The Pirates are slated to face UNC Greensboro at noon before taking on the host Eagles at 6 p.m. inside Hanner Fieldhouse. ECU wraps up its opening weekend Saturday with another noon matchup versus the Spartans.

Live stats are available for all three contests while the Georgia Southern match will stream live through ESPN+.

The Pirates, who finished the 2022 season at 12-20 overall record and 7-13 in American Athletic Conference play, welcome nine newcomers to the fold – including a pair of transfer student-athletes. The squad is under the direction of fourth-year head coach Adler Augustin.

Experience abounds in the 2023 iteration of the program as ECU is set to return the bulk of its production offensively and along the back row. The Pirates retained over 70 percent of last year’s statistical output in five categories – kills (74.9), assists (96.3), service aces (77.2), digs (78.6) and points (71.8).

Back for her second season in the Purple and Gold, Angeles Alderete enjoyed a debut season to remember. She became the second player in program history to earn AAC Freshman of the Year honors and was tabbed to the All-American Conference Second Team after racking up 501 kills (4.07 per set), 321 digs (2.61) per set and a .223 hitting percentage. Alderete was the first East Carolina player to notch 500 kills in a campaign since Kelley Wernert in 2007 while also slotting third in the league rankings in kills per set and points per set (4.56). She was named to the 2023 All-AAC Preseason Team, marking the first such selection for the Pirates since Bri Wood in 2021.

Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Izzy Marinelli also proved a key offensive option in 2022, ranking second on the team in kills (282) and kills per set (2.39). She logged double-digit kills in 15 matches, including seven of the last eight. Her career-high 18 kills spurred ECU to a five-set victory over Cincinnati – the first Pirate win over the Bearcats since 2017.

East Carolina’s 6-2 offense was executed by a pair of returning setters in senior Julianna Askew and junior Payton Evenstad. The duo combined for 1,121 assists while Evenstad finished 2022 ranked 10th in the league in assists per set (5.08). Askew enters the new season with 3,300 career assists and a team-best 23 double-doubles.

Defensively, junior Kenzie Beckham returns as the team’s leading performer as she finished the 2022 campaign fifth in the American Conference in digs per set (3.85). Classmate Tia Shum is also back after missing last season due to injury.

Sophomore middle blocker Carlia Northcross provided some key moments during her rookie year, averaging 0.85 blocks per set and starting 19 matches. She improved greatly throughout the season and into AAC play, posting a personal-best 11 kills and a .550 hitting percentage against Tulane before logging five kills and six blocks in a win over Tulsa – just the third victory over the Golden Hurricane in program history.

The Pirates added a pair of Division I transfers during the offseason. Right side Fran McBride joins the team after playing three seasons at Mississippi State while defensive specialist Lara Uyar began her collegiate career at fellow American Athletic Conference institution Wichita State.

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.

A Look At UNC Greensboro

UNC Greensboro begins the 2023 campaign under new leadership as Felicia Turner was named the Spartans’ head coach in December of 2022. UNCG finished last season with a 10-20 overall record and 4-12 Southern Conference mark before falling to Furman in four sets in the opening match of the league tournament. The Spartans will have to replace top point scorer Taylor Robertson who transferred to Wingate University after pacing UNCG in kills (284), kills per set (2.81) a year ago. Defensive stalwart Ella Voegele also departed the team, transferring to St. Thomas University as the 2022 Spartan leader in digs (454) and digs per set (4.54). Turner embarks on her first season as a collegiate head coach with prior stops at Georgia (associate head coach/assistant coach) and Loyola Marymount (assistant coach). 

The UNC Greensboro Series

UNCG leads the series with East Carolina 18-3, but the Pirates have won four of the last six meetings. It’s been nearly a decade since ECU’s last encounter with the Spartans – a 3-0 UNCG victory Aug. 31, 2013, at the Deacon Invitational. The Pirates won four straight over the Spartans from 2002-07. 

Scouting Georgia Southern

Georgia Southern turned in a 16-12 overall record and 7-7 Sun Belt Conference showing in 2022, defeating Southern Miss in the second round of the league tournament before falling to James Madison in the quarterfinals. The Eagles are tasked with replacing Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year and first team all-conference selection Emily Jarome, who exhausted her eligibility after pacing the squad in kills (367) and kills per set (3.71). Georgia Southern does return starting setter Callaway Cason (880 assists) and top defensive performer Ashlyn Lovett (431 digs) as well as outside hitter Paige Powers (240 kills). Chad Willis enters his fifth season in charge of the Eagles and has led Georgia Southern to back-to-back winning seasons.

The Georgia Southern Series

The series between East Carolina and Georgia Southern is a short one as the Pirates swept the Eagles all the way back on Oct. 13, 1989, in Jacksonville, Fla. in the teams’ only previous meeting.

Introduced To Some, Reacquainted With Others

The American Athletic Conference underwent a membership shift in July, welcoming Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA to the league to offset the departure of Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to the Big 12 Conference. East Carolina is familiar with a handful of the newcomers as they have shared Conference USA membership with Charlotte, Rice and UAB in the past. The Owls enter the AAC having won the 2022 C-USA Tournament title and making an appearance in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

10th Season in The American

East Carolina is in its 10th volleyball season as a member of the American Athletic Conference after spending 13 years as part of Conference USA. The Pirates slotted seventh in the conference standings in 2022 – their highest overall finish in the league since taking fourth place in 2017.

ECU At-A-Glance

Record – 0-0 (.000) // 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 74th match of the Adler Augustin era when it opens the 2023 campaign Friday in Statesboro. // The Pirates’ all-time record stands at 556-855 as the program begins its 46th season of competition.

Up Next

East Carolina makes its 2023 home debut next weekend, welcoming Campbell, Bethune-Cookman and Appalachian State to Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum for the Pirate Invitational.