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    Volleyball Faces Tough Challenge at Rice Invitational

    Sept. 12, 2013

    Tournament Central | Match Notes 

    RALEIGH, N.C. - The NC State women’s volleyball team faces a tough challenge this weekend when it travels to Houston, Texas, for the Rice Invitational. The Wolfpack will be joined in the tournament by host Rice, Houston Baptist and Missouri. 

    The Wolfpack will play the Missouri Tigers in its first match of the tournament on Friday, Sept. 13, at 2 p.m. EST. Like the Pack, the Tigers also enter Friday’s contest undefeated and own the nation’s best record at 8-0.



    State will return to the court for the second time on Friday to take on the Houston Baptist Huskies. On the season, the Huskies are 5-3.

    On Saturday, NC State will face Rice (2-5) in the squad’s lone match of the day.

    The Missouri Tigers have played eight matches on the early season and have been victorious in all of them. Senior outside hitter Lisa Henning leads the squad with 115 kills and classmate Molly Kreklow paces the group with 334 assists as the team’s setter. Preseason picked to finish third in the SEC East, the Tigers have won six of their eight matches by 3-0 sweep.

    The Houston Baptist Huskies started the season 3-1, but lost two of their last four matches to run their record to 5-3 on the season. The Huskies defeated Prairie View A&M their last time out, 3-0. At the Florida International Tournament, the squad swept SEC school Alabama, 3-0. Senior Kati Wenger leads a balanced offensive attack with 74 kills on the season, followed by junior Megan McStravick with 70.

    The Rice Owls have struggled early in the season, but have played well in most of their losses. At 2-5, the Owls are led by junior middle blocker Jillian Humphrey and senior setter Megan Murphy. The squad defeated Lamar, 3-0, in its last outing.

    Four members of the NC State women’s volleyball team will be returning to their home state when the Wolfpack makes the trip to Texas for the Rice Invitational. 

    Juniors Rachel Buckley and Alesha Wilson, along with sophomores Tanna Aljoe and Laura Blab will have the opportunity to play in their home state. While none of the athletes are from Houston, their hometowns are only a few hours away.

    Head coach Bryan Bunn also hails from the state of Texas. Bunn’s hometown is San Antonio, where he also attended college at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

    Assistant coach Kimberly Martinez will make her first trip back to her home state as a member of the Wolfpack coaching staff. Martinez hails from Sugar Land, Texas.

    When junior middle blocker Alesha Wilson takes the court against the Missouri Tigers on Friday, Sept. 13, at2 p.m., she will see a very familiar face on the opposite side of the net. 

    Wilson attended high school with Missouri middle blocker Whitney Little. The duo combined to lead the Keller Central High School volleyball team to the playoffs several years and led the squad in numerous offensive and defensive categories.

    In the six matches that the Wolfpack has played this season, it has only dropped one set in 19 total sets played. State started the season by winning its first five matches by 3-0 sweeps, before Towson was able to take the first set from the Pack. However, NC State went on to win the match, 3-1, to remain undefeated.

    The Wolfpack’s 6-0 start is the best for the program since the 1995 season when the squad began the season 7-0 before suffering its first defeat. Last season, the team started 5-0 before dropping its first contest of the year to the VCU Rams. State responded to its first loss by winning the next 10 matches to improve to 15-1 on the season.

    NC State’s hot hitting has led the Wolfpack to a 6-0 record to start the 2013 season. As a team, the Pack has an impressive hitting percentage of .306 - the best among ACC members.

    Three members of the squad are in the top-five in the conference in hitting percentage. Junior Dariyan Hopper leads the way with a .412 average, followed by senior Brie Merriwether with a .383 and junior Rachel Buckley at .379.

    To go along with the excellent offensive production that the Wolfpack has received this season, it has also played great defense, keeping its opponents to a mere .085 attacking percentage through the first six matches. 

    Its average of 2.50 blocks per set ranks third-best in the ACC, while its 14.79 digs per set is fifth-best. 

    Following the trip to Houston, Texas, the Wolfpack will return home to Reynolds Coliseum to host and compete in its final tournament of the season at the Courtyard Midtown Invitational. 

    The Pack will host the Wisconsin Badgers, Colgate Raiders and VCU Rams.

    On Friday, Sept. 20, the Wolfpack will face No. 25 Wisconsin at 7 p.m. in a match that will be broadcast on ESPN3. The following day State will take the court at 1 p.m. against Colgate, before playing its second match of the day at 7 p.m. versus VCU.

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