Pack Volleyball Blitzes Duke, 3-1, Improves to 13-1, 3-0 On Season
Sept. 21, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. - For the first time in school history, NC State's volleyball team completed a sweep of the Big Four in ACC play, beating Duke 3-1 at Reynolds Coliseum on Friday night in front of 1,486 spectators.
The victory allowed the Wolfpack (13-1 overall, 3-0 ACC) to match the second best overall start in school history and to post the best start to the conference season since the 1988 team went a perfect 6-0 in league play.
The Pack came out of the gates strong, winning the first two sets then finishing off its first victory over Duke since 2000, never trailing the Devils in the fourth set (25-23, 25-20, 18-25, 25-14).
"We played with a lot of heart," said third-year head coach Bryan Bunn. "I thought we looked great in the first two sets, but got a little tentative in the third. We made some errors that hurt us."
"But we came back in the fourth set, built a gap and maintained it."
Senior setter Megan Cyr was outstanding throughout the match. She not only had a match-high 36 assists, but also added eight kills on .800 hitting, five total blocks and a fourth-set solo block that stirred the crowd.
"She was so relaxed tonight - that might be the best I have ever seen her play," Bunn said of his third-year starter. "She moved the ball around and she knew when to dump. She had a great one-on-one block in the fourth set."
"I can't say enough about what she did tonight."
The Pack had never beaten Duke, Wake and North Carolina in ACC matches in the same season. The last time they topped all three was in 1983, but the match against the Tar Heels was not an ACC contest.
The win ended a 21-match losing streak to the Blue Devils (9-4, 0-1). In fact, the three sets won Friday night matches the total number of sets won by State over the Blue Devils since that 3-0 win at Reynolds in 2000.
Despite the success, Bunn wants his team to remain even-keeled. After winning eight matches in 15 days, the team is off until hosting Georgia Tech next Friday and Clemson next Saturday in the final two contests of a 13-match homestand. Admission for all spectators is free.
"Winning is great, but there is still a lot of volleyball left to play," said Bunn, who in a little more than two seasons has won more ACC matches than the previous 12 years combined. "We have 17 league matches remaining and two really tough ones next weekend."
"The team can have a nice weekend off after going really hard the last two weeks."
Sophomore Alesha Wilson came off the bench to help in the middle, recording seven kills on .545 hitting. She also added four total blocks.
"Alesha came off the bench and played out of her mind," Bunn said. "We always knew she was capable of that. [Cormier] played great. Dariyan [Hopper] struggled in the first three sets, but then had some big kills in the fourth set when we needed them."
"That's the thing about our team - I look at the ACC stats and we have no one in the top 10 of any category just about. It doesn't matter, because if you play as a team, this is what happens."
The Pack trailed by one early in the first set, but reeled off five straight points to take a 14-10 lead, forcing Duke to call timeout. The Pack led as much as 18-12 in the set, as Kearns and Cyr kept the ball in play with big saves that gave the Wolfpack a momentum advantage.
Cormier and Merriwether had big kills to put the Pack ahead 22-17.
The Pack was at set point 24-20 until Duke scored three in a row forcing an NC State timeout. Glass finished the game with a kill from the middle of the court, giving the Pack its first set over the Blue Devils since 2007 and only the third since the State's last match victory over Duke in 2000.
The second set was tied 17-17 when the Pack regained the serve, scoring five straight behind the serve of sophomore Hannah Thompson. Cormier and Brie Merriwether finished off the set with big kills, 25-20.
Duke sizzled in the third set, taking a 16-10 lead and forcing Bunn to call timeout. The Devils held on for a 25-16 win, closing the gap to 2-1. The Pack hit just .065 in the game, while Duke hit .194 and outblocked the Pack, 3-2.
In the fourth set, the Pack won the first two points and never looked back, leading the entire way to win the set and the match. State built a 12-5 advantage by scoring four out of five points, then got big plays from Hopper on a smash to the middle of the court and Cyr had solo block at the net.
Hopper added two more kills and Cyr finished off the match with a dump-kill at the net.
The 13-1 mark to start the season matches the same mark the Pack had last year and in 1980. The best overall start in school history was an 18-1 start in 1979.