Volleyball Tops Rice in Four Sets, 3-1
Sept. 14, 2013
HOUSTON, Texas – After playing two matches on Friday, the NC State women’s volleyball came out reenergized on Saturday as the Wolfpack defeated Rice, 3-1, at Tudor Fieldhouse. The Pack won the first set by a comfortable, 25-15 margin, before taking the second set, 25-20. Rice won the third set, 28-26, but State responded to win the fourth set, 25-20, to win the match.
“We started out really well in sets one and two, but they came out with more energy than us in the third set,” said head coach Bryan Bunn. “We had our chances, but we made a few errors.”
Rice led in the early stages of the first set, but NC State took the lead 4-3 after a kill by junior Dariyan Hopper and never relinquished it. The Owls remained within striking distance throughout the first set, but the Pack stifled any attempts of a comeback.
Senior Katie Ganny ignited the Wolfpack offense immediately in the second set as she recorded two service aces to put the Pack up, 2-0. State fed off the momentum created by Ganny, extending the lead to 11-4 before Rice was able to score three consecutive points. The Owls trimmed the Wolfpack lead to 17-16 after back-to-back kills from Jillian Humphrey, but the Pack answered and never trailed in the set.
In the third set, Rice gained the early advantage and led until a kill by Hopper knotted the set at 12 apiece. The remainder of the set was tightly contested as neither team was able to gain a true advantage and as a result the score had to be decided with extra points, to make the final tally, 28-26.
The Owls seemed to carry the momentum from the third set into the fourth frame as Rice led early, 6-4. At that point, NC State went on a 10-0 run to make the score 14-6. During the run, Rice called two timeouts, but was unable to interrupt the Pack’s rhythm.
Hopper led the Wolfpack in kills with a season-high 19, complemented by a great .462 attacking percentage. Junior Alesha Wilson tallied the next-best kill total with 11, followed by Nikki Glass and Brie Merriwether, who each recorded nine kills.
“Dariyan [Hopper] was great for us today. She moved the ball around and swung very aggressively,” Bunn added.
Sophomore setter Tanna Aljoe had an excellent match for State, dishing out a career-high 50 assists, to go along with nine digs, four blocks and two kills. Alston Kearns led the defense with 23 digs, but was trailed closely by Glass with 17 and freshman Eve Davis with 16.
“Tanna’s getting much more stable in the setting position and is really starting to understand what we want from her,” said Bunn. “It usually takes setters some time to get adjusted to the different systems and she is starting to get accustomed to ours.”
Wilson and Kearns were rewarded for their efforts over the weekend by claiming all-tournament honors.
Merriwether tallied eight blocks – one solo and seven assisted – to lead the Wolfpack in that category. Wilson also assisted on eight blocks.
NC State returns to action at home on Friday, Sept. 20, when it takes the court against 25th-ranked Wisconsin in a match that will be broadcast live on ESPN3/Watch ESPN.