Wolfpack Volleyball Keeps Rolling, Tops Clemson 3-1
Sept. 29, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. – Third-year NC State volleyball coach Bryan Bunn recorded the 400th victory as a head coach and the Wolfpack concluded its 13-match homestand by winning its 10th consecutive contest on Saturday, beating Clemson 3-1 at Reynolds Coliseum.
Junior middle blocker Brie Merriwether had a career-high 26 kills on 49 attacks for a .367 hitting average. Senior setter Megan Cyr matched her career high with 55 assists, the same number she had as a sophomore against Illinois State.
The Wolfpack (15-1 overall, 5-0 ACC), playing less than 24 hours after beating Georgia Tech on Friday night, dropped the first set for only the fourth time this season. But it swept the next three sets to win for the third time after dropping the opening set. The Pack also dropped its first game in the team’s only loss this season, a 3-2 decision against Virginia Commonwealth.
Merriwether matched her previous career mark of 14 kills, which she had last year as a sophomore in five sets against Wisconsin, by the end of the second set. She added 12 more, including the game-winners in the final two sets, to nearly double her previous high.
“Brie was fantastic tonight,” Bunn said. “She has been playing really well the last few matches and kept us in it after we lost the first set.”
Clemson held an early lead in the opening set until the Wolfpack fought back to tie it, 16-16, in the first of five ties. Merriwether and freshman Morgan Cormier kept their team in the game, with Merriwether making eight kills and hitting .400.
Sophomore Alesha Wilson’s kill off a Clemson defender put the Pack at set point, 24-22, but the Tigers came back with four straight points to win the opening frame.
“We seemed to be rolling along, but then we had a couple of calls that didn’t go our way and we didn’t handle that as well as we should have,” Bunn said. “But the thing about this team is that it is resilient. We didn’t let that bother us in the next three sets.”
In the second set, the Wolfpack used a 10-2 run to take the lead, but had a hard time putting the Tigers away, as Bunn used his two timeouts to settle his team. Merriwether continued to lead the team with six more kills, but sophomore Rachel Buckley came off the bench to inject a little energy during her team’s scoring run.
Merriwether got the Pack to set point again, then tied the match 1-1 at the break with a set-winning dump at the net, 25-21.
Clemson owned the net throughout the match, nearly tripling the number of total blocks in the match, 17-6. In the third set alone, the Tigers had eight team blocks, while the Wolfpack had didn’t get its first until sophomore Nikki Glass won the 21st point with a solo block, giving her team a two-point lead. Glass followed with a smash in the face of a Clemson defender and Merriwether had the game-winning kills as the Pack grabbed the match lead, 2-1, with the 25-21 win.
In the fourth set, the Pack used its momentum to roll over the Tigers, 25-19, and give their coach his landmark win.
“It’s a nice number to reach,” Bunn said. “Maybe it just means I’ve been coaching a long time.”
Merriwether, with her 26 kills and 28.5 points, was one of three Wolfpack attackers with double-digit kills. Glass and Wilson, both sophomores, had 13 each. For the first time this season, the Pack had five players with double-figure digs.
Sophomore Hannah Thompson and Alston Kearns each had 20, while Glass added 18, Cyr had 17 and senior Alexa Micek had 16. The previous most the team had of double-digit digs was earlier this month against North Carolina, when Kearns, Glass, Cyr and Thompson had 10 or more.
Now the Wolfpack prepares to hit the road for the next two weekends, traveling to face Miami on Friday at 7 p.m. in Coral Gables and Florida State on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Tallahassee.
The next weekend, the Pack travels to Virginia to face Virginia Tech in Blacksburg at 7 p.m. on Oct. 12 and Virginia on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. in Charlottesville.
Bunn and his squad return to Reynolds Coliseum on Oct. 19 to host Boston College, followed by Maryland the next day. Admission is free for all spectators.