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    Pack Volleyball Hits Road to Florida
    Brie Merriwether
    Brie Merriwether

    Oct. 3, 2012

    Weekly Notes (Oct. 5-7) Get Acrobat Reader

    NC State (15-1, 5-0) at Miami (12-3, 4-1)
    7 p.m. | Oct. 5, 2012
    Knight Sports Complex
    Coral Gables, Fla.
    Series record: Miami leads, 14-1
    Last meeting: Miami won, 3-0, in 2011 in Coral Gables, Fla.
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    NC State (15-1, 5-0)  at No. 14 Florida State (12-2, 4-1)
    1 p.m. | Oct. 7, 2012
    Tully Gymnasium
    Tallahassee, Fla.
    Series record: Florida State leads, 39-5
    Last meeting: NC State won, 3-0, in 2011 in Tallahassee, Fla.

    RALEIGH, N.C. -- After playing its last 13 matches at Reynolds Coliseum, NC State's ACC-leading volleyball team hits the road for the first time since August for four straight, six of its next eight and nine of its final 15 matches.

    "It's going to be a tough weekend," said third-year head coach Bryan Bunn. "Playing on the road in the ACC is always difficult, but if you want to be good in the ACC, you have to learn how to win on the road."

    Last year, the Pack played well away from Reynolds, posting a 10-8 record on the road. It won a school-record four ACC road contests, while compiling a 6-8 overall record in visiting venues, plus a 4-0 mark in matches at neutral sites.

    "Sometimes, playing on the road can be better for a team," Bunn said. "There aren't as many distractions like social life, parents and other things to deal with.  All you have to focus on is playing volleyball.

    "We will see how well we can handle being on the road."

    The Wolfpack hasn't played away from home since Aug. 24-25, when it took three matches in Charleston, S.C., as it won the season-opening Hampton Inn & Suites West Ashley Invitational, hosted by the College of Charleston. The Pack beat beat Jacksonville, Sacramento State and host College of Charleston in the two-day event.

    "It has been a long time since we've played on the road," Bunn said. "Our team has changed and matured since then."

    The Wolfpack's success in the early season -- the 15-1 record is the second best start in school history -- has drawn attention from the world of college volleyball. The Pack is currently ranked No. 28 in the first NCAA Division I RPI poll of the season.

    That is third among the 12 ACC schools, behind No. 19 North Carolina and No. 23 Miami.

    While still unranked, the Wolfpack did receive 13 votes in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25, a poll of college coaches. NC State has never been ranked in the AVCA poll, which began in 1982.

    On Friday, the Wolfpack will face Miami (12-3, 4-1) in Coral Gables, Fla., where the Pack has never won a match. The Hurricanes, picked to finish fifth in a preseason poll of ACC coaches, own a 15-1 advantage in the series, which began after Miami joined the ACC in 2004. State's only win in the series came in 2010, a 3-0 win at Reynolds Coliseum.

    Last year, the Pack pushed Miami to five sets (25-16, 19-25, 23-25, 27-25, 15-12) in Raleigh and lost 3-0 (27-25, 25-19, 25-20) in Coral Gables. Two of the last three matches in the series have gone to five sets.

    Sunday, the Wolfpack travels to Tallahassee to face preseason favorite and 14th-ranked Florida State (12-2, 4-1).

    State has won only once in Tallahassee in this series that dates back to 1983. The Wolfpack took a 3-0 win at Florida State in 1995 to complete a two-match season sweep. Overall, the Pack is 1-22 in Tallahassee and 5-39 against the Seminoles all-time.

    Florida State has won 24 in a row since NC State won its last match in the series, a 3-1 win in Raleigh in 1999.

    The Wolfpack concluded a 13-match homestand by sweeping Georgia Tech and Clemson last weekend at Reynolds Coliseum. Junior middle blocker Brie Merriwether was outstanding in both matches, leading the Wolfpack in kills and scoring in both contests.

    In the 3-2 victory over the Yellow Jackets on Friday, the Wolfpack bounced back from a 2-1 deficit to win the final two sets and topple the ACC's only other unbeated team in conference play. It was the fourth consecutive win over Tech and the ninth straight win of the season.

    On Friday, Merriwether was again prolific, matching her career-high of 14 kills in just the first two sets. She finished with 26 kills and 28.5 points in the 3-1 win. For just the fourth time this season, the Pack dropped the first set, but came back to win for the third time. Senior setter Megan Cyr matched her career high with 55 assists, equaling the total she had against Illinois State as a sophomore.

    Following its trip to Florida, the Wolfpack will head north to Virginia on Oct. 12-13 to play Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Oct. 12 and Virginia in Charlottesville on Oct. 13. The Pack will return to Reynolds Coliseum to face Boston College on Oct. 19 and Maryland on Oct. 20.

    In its first five league contests, ACC-leading NC State has already beaten the teams picked to finish second (North Carolina), third (Clemson), fourth (Duke) and sixth in the preseason poll of ACC coaches.

    The Wolfpack, following last season's successful 20-12, 8-12 campaign, was picked to finish eighth in the same poll.

    It has already beaten the only team it has played so far that was picked below the Pack, Wake Forest. Both of this weekend's opponents, Miami at fifth and Florida State at first, were picked ahead of the Wolfpack.

    Last year, the Pack finished tied for seventh last year, its best showing in the league since 1999. The eight ACC wins and four ACC road wins were both school records.

    Defending ACC champion Florida State was picked as the favorite to win the league again, getting 118 out of a possible 121 points in a survey by the 12 ACC coaches.

    Senior setter Megan Cyr of St. Andrews, Manitoba, Canada, was the Wolfpack's lone entry on the 18-player preseason All-ACC squad.

    When third-year coach Bryan Bunn was hired to lead the program in 2010, he inherited seven losing streaks of more than 10 matches to the school's 11 ACC foes. In just over two seasons, Bunn has ended five of them, including a 27-match losing streak to Clemson, a 25-match skid to Wake Forest and 21-match skeins to both Duke and Georgia Tech.

    The Blue Devils were the most recent to fall, in a 3-1 Wolfpack victory on Friday. Duke had lost just three sets to the Pack in the streak, which dated back to a 3-0 Wolfpack win in Raleigh in 2000.

    State still has two on-going streaks against two teams it will face twice this season: a 24-match streak against Florida State and a 15-match streak against Virginia Tech.

    School            Streak        Ended
    Duke                 21        2012
    Wake Forest       25        2011
    Clemson            27        2011
    Georgia Tech     21        2010
    Miami               11        2010

    NC State's 3-1 victory over Clemson on Sept. 29 was the 400th win of head coach Bryan Bunn's 16-year coaching career. In two-and-a-half seasons with the Wolfpack, Bunn has posted a 49-32 overall record, a winning percentage of .605, which ranks fourth among NC State's eight all-time coaches.

    Bunn began his coaching career by posting a 171-66 record at NAIA Texas Lutheran from 1994-99, winning two Heart of Texas championships.

    He moved to Division II North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., where he compiled a 180-56 mark from 2000-06. He won five consecutive Peach Belt Conference titles and was 69-1 against league opponents.

    In the final two years of his tenure at North Florida, the Ospreys moved from Division II to Division I, compiling records of 19-10 and 18-15 those two years.

    Last year, the Wolfpack set school records with eight ACC wins and four ACC road wins. In his first two-plus seasons as NC State's head coach, including this year's 5-0 start in conference play, Bryan Bunn has guided the Pack to 17 conference wins, which exceeds by two the number of ACC wins the program had amassed in its previous 13 seasons combined.

    NC State won its first five contests of the 2012 season, which matches the program's best start since 1995, when the Pack won its first seven matches. Head coach Bryan Bunn also led the Wolfpack to a 5-0 start in 2010, his first year at the helm.

    More impressively, however, the Pack is 15-1 overall out of the gate this season, which rates as the second best start in school history. The best was in 1979, when the Pack opened the season 18-1.

    Last year, the Pack began with a 13-1 mark, which matched the 1980 team for the second best start in school history. In 2010, Bunn's first season, the Pack opened with a 9-1 record.

    Here are top five starts in school history.

    Year        Record
    1979        18-1
    2012        15-1
    2011        13-1
    1980        13-1
    1981        12-1

    Junior middle blocker Brie Merriwether had perhaps the best outing of her career when the Wolfpack beat Clemson, 3-1, on Sept. 29.

    Coming into the 2012 season, the junior from Orlando, Fla., had posted a career high of 14 kills, in last year's thrilling five-set win over Wisconsin. She had seven more matches with double-digit kills in 2011, plus five more this season, including a new career high of 18 against both Western Carolina and North Carolina.

    Against the Tigers, however, Merriwether smashed her all-time best total, knocking down 26 kills with a .367 hitting average. She added four digs, three block assists and one service ace.

    Merriwether now ranks 10th in the ACC with a .335 hitting average.

    Senior setter Megan Cyr matched her career high with 55 assists against Clemson, a total she had as a sophomore against Illinois State. With 610 assists in 16 matches this season, the preseason All-ACC selection now ranks third all-time on the school's career assists list, having recently overtaken Erin Vesey (1998-99) total of 2,956.

    She's also been an effective part of the Wolfpack's offensive attack. Her .374 attack average ranks second all-time, and she's slowing creeping up on Lori Zuersher's record of .378, which was set from 1981-84.



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