Volleyball To Host Final 2 Regular-Season Home Matches
Nov. 15, 2012
Friday | 7 p.m. | Reynolds Coliseum
Series record: Virginia leads, 36-22
Last meeting: NC State won 3-1 on Oct. 13 in Charlottesville, Va.
Gametracker | Live stream
Virginia Tech (15-12, 8-9) at NC State (20-8, 10-7)
Saturday | 5 p.m. | Reynolds Coliseum
Series record: Virginia Tech leads, 17-9
Last meeting: NC State won 3-1 on Oct. 12 in Blacksburg, Va.
Gametracker | Live stream
NC State’s 2012 Results
Overall: 20-8; Home: 14-3; Away: 4-5; Neutral: 2-0.
Atlantic Coast Conference: 10-7; Home 7-2; Away: 3-5.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Heading into the final week of the 2012 schedule, the preseason dreams of NC State’s record-setting volleyball squad are still alive.
The Wolfpack (20-8 overall, 10-7 ACC) has already set a school record for ACC wins, guaranteed itself an overall winning record for the second year in a row and assured a non-losing conference mark for the first time since 1990.
Third-year coach Bryan Bunn admits, however, that there is still work to be done if the Pack wants to reach its primary objective for the season: earning a bid into the 64-team NCAA Championship when they are announced on Nov. 25. NC State has made only one trip to the tournament in the 38-year history of the volleyball program, losing 3-0 to host Kentucky in the first round of the 1987 tournament in Lexington, Ky.
“We're squarely on the bubble for the NCAA field,” Bunn said. “So this is a huge weekend for us. We need to win at least two of our final three matches. So if we can take care of business this weekend, that will put us in good position.”
Also at stake for the Wolfpack is an upper-division finish in the ACC standings. Last year’s team tied for seventh in the ACC standings, matching the program’s highest finish since the 1995 squad placed fifth in the eight-team league.
The Pack hasn’t finished in the top half of the league standings since the 1991 team finished tied for fourth in the eight-team ACC with a 3-4 ACC record.
“It’s a big weekend for us,” Bunn said. “Basically, fourth through sixth place will be determined this weekend. So we are excited to have the opportunity to be at home, to have those teams come here.
“It should be a good weekend.”
The Wolfpack has beaten all three teams remaining on its schedule, topping Virginia Tech and Virginia in 3-1 road victories and handing North Carolina a 3-1 loss in its ACC opener. Bunn said both teams his squad will face this weekend will offer challenges.
“Virginia is better,” Bunn said. “They have changed their lineup and found one that works better for them right now. Virginia Tech is doing a few different things, but they are probably about the same. They have different people in some spots, but they are still playing about the same.”
On Saturday, the Wolfpack will recognize the contributions of seniors Megan Cyr of St. Andrews, Manitoba, Canada, and Alexa Micek of Oxnard, Calif., a pair of three-year players who transferred into the program when Bunn was hired in 2010.
Both have made significant contributions in turning around the fortunes of the program, the coach said.
“They have been great for us,” Bunn said. “Lex came in and has played in pretty much every match for the last two years. Megan has played for three years and has played pretty much every point of every set since she’s been here.
“Both of them have set a great example on how to work with their work ethic.”
They have also helped establish NC State as a destination program for quality players from all over North America.
“There are 21 NCAA Division I schools in [North Carolina],” Bunn said. “That dilutes the talent. We have to go all over the country and find the best talent we can find to help us get better.”
Bunn also admits that there is nothing like home – especially the rowdy confines of Reynolds Coliseum. He’s hoping his team will have a particularly strong home-court advantage this weekend for these two important matches.
“We have a special venue where we play,” Bunn said. “It’s different pretty much than any other school in the conference. That gives us an advantage. We have a good, supportive crowd that gets very loud in here.
“It helped us beat North Carolina; it helped us beat Duke, two big matches that they were a part of. We are hoping to have a good turnout this weekend. We need that kind of support this weekend. These matches are just as important, if not more important, than the ones we played earlier.”
The Wolfpack split a pair of ACC road matches last weekend, beating Clemson 3-0 on Friday and falling to Georgia Tech 3-1 in Atlanta on Saturday. The win over Clemson not only ended a four-match losing streak, it extended the Wolfpack’s school record for ACC wins in a season to 10. The 25-22, 25-18, 25-19 win also guaranteed the first non-losing conference season since the 1990 team went 3-3 in league play and was the Pack’s first 3-0 win over the Tigers since 1990.
State’s sophomore hitters were on target all night long, led by outside hitter Dariyan Hopper’s 14 kills and .353 hitting percentage. Sophomore middle blocker Alesha Wilson added nine kills, sophomore Nikki Glass had eight kills and a .318 hitting percentage and Rachel Buckley had six kills. Sophomore Alston Kearns led the team with 18 digs, followed by senior Alexa Micek’s 11. Senior Megan Cyr had a team-high 35 assists. Junior Brie Merriwether had four block assists and two solo blocks, including the match-winning point in the third set.
Saturday night against the Yellow Jackets, the Pack fell behind in the first two sets and could not duplicate its feat from last year’s trip to O’Keefe Gym, when it bounced back to win three in a row in a five-set match. The Wolfpack (20-8 overall, 10-7) was led by junior Brie Merriwether’s 15 kills, a .444 attack average and seven blocks and sophomore Alesha Wilson’s 12 kills and a .292 hitting average. Three Wolfpack players had double-digit digs, led by sophomore Nikki Glass with 16, sophomore Alston Kearns with 13 and senior Alexa Micek with 12. Senior setter Megan Cyr had 36 assists. The Yellow Jackets out-hit the Pack, .201 to .176 and owned a decisive advantage in the serving game. Tech had 11 service aces, while the Pack had only one ace and 11 service errors.
The first 200 spectators at Saturday’s match against the Cavaliers will receive the third and final set of 2012 NC State volleyball trading cards. This week’s set includes seniors Megan Cyr and Alexa Micek; juniors Brie Merriwether, Meredith Richardson and Katie Ganny; and sophomores...
The Wolfpack will conclude its regular-season schedule when it travels to North Carolina on Wednesday to face the third-place Tar Heels at Carmichael Arena in a 2 p.m. contest. The Wolfpack defeated the Tar Heels 3-1 on Sept. 14 at Reynolds Coliseum in its ACC opener.
MEGAN CYR’S CAREER
Senior Megan Cyr transferred to NC State as a redshirt sophomore three years ago, after spending two seasons at Colorado. Since then, she has never missed a point, playing in all 340 sets in the 93 matches since her arrival.
She has recorded at least 1,000 assists in each of her three seasons with the team and currently ranks third in school history with 3,582, trailing only Nicole Peterson (4,938) and Melinda Dudley (4,570).
The preseason All-ACC selection has twice recorded a career-high 55 assists in one match, as a sophomore against Illinois State and this year against Clemson.
Cyr has a been a big part of the Wolfpack’s offensive attack during her career. She’s leads all players with more than 100 attacks with a .332 hitting average. Her career average of .356 ranks second in school history. As a sophomore, she set a career-high with nine kills at Clemson and has a career total of 305 kills.
For much of her senior season, she has led the team in blocks. Earlier this season at Virginia Tech, she posted a career-high seven total blocks. She’s currently tied for second with sophomore Alesha Wilson with 79 total blocks, behind team leader Brie Merriwether’s 86 total blocks. She has 211 career blocks.
During her NC State career, she has been named Most Valuable Player in three tournaments: the 2011 Courtyard Midtown Invitational, the 2012 Courtyard Midtown Invitational in Raleigh and the 2012 Hampton Inn & Suites West Ashley Invitational in Charleston, S.C. She was also named the ACC Player of the Week for Sept. 24, 2012.
Last summer, Cyr was selected to train with Team Canada and will rejoin the squad this spring when her collegiate career is complete.
Set to receive her degree in communications with a minor in journalism next month, Cyr carries a 3.4 grade point average and has twice been named to the Dean’s list. She was also one of 33 ACC players named to the 2011 All-ACC Academic squad and has twice been named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll.
ALEXA MICEK’S CAREER
After spending one season at Pierce College in Los Angeles, senior defensive specialist Alexa Micek took a chance three years ago, making the transcontinental trip to Raleigh to walk on to new head coach Bryan Bunn’s squad at NC State.
She had been looking to play for an ACC team, following in the steps of her cousin, Miami All-American Lane Carico. She took a visit to Miami, and Hurricanes coach Hurricanes coach Nicole Latagne Welch declined suggested Micek contact NC State. Micek sent an email to the new Wolfpack staff and mailed a recruiting tape.
After one season as a reserve, the Oxnard, Calif., native has been a regular starter for the last two seasons, playing in all 93 of the Wolfpack’s matches since her arrival. She has logged at least 100 sets of action in all three of her seasons with the Wolfpack.
She was named to the Hampton Inn and Suites West Ashley Invitational All-Tournament team for her play at the two-day tournament in Charleston, S.C., in which the Wolfpack swept all three of its matches.
This year, she ranks second on the team with 304 digs and 25 service aces. She also ranks third on the team this season with 43 assists.
Last year, she ranked third on the team with 291 digs, 55 assists and 19 service aces.
As a sophomore, she had a career-high 20 digs against Clemson and twice posted 19 digs in matches last season.
Micek is pursuing a degree in the challenging field of civil engineering, one of four players on the team who are majoring in engineering.
MERRIWETHER EARNS DISTRICT III ACADEMIC AWARD
NC State junior middle blocker Brie Merriwether of Orlando, Fla., is one of four ACC players named to the 2012 Capital One Academic All-District III volleyball teams, selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America, recognizing her as one of the nation’s top student-athletes for her combined performance athletically and in the classroom.
The Academic All-District teams include the student-athletes divided among eight geographic districts across the United States and Canada from NCAA Division I, II and III schools.
First-team Academic All-District honorees advance to the Capital One Academic All-America Team ballot, where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be selected later this month.
Merriwether has played in 94 of the Wolfpack’s 105 sets this season and leads the team with 86 total blocks, is second on the team with 246 kills, second with 73 blocks and third with a .311 attack average.
Last year, the Wolfpack recorded its first overall winning season since 1996, a feat that was matched again earlier this season. Third-year coach Bryan Bunn now owns two of the 17 winning seasons in school history.
Last weekend’s win over Clemon guaranteed the Pack’s first non-losing season in ACC play since the 1990 team went 3-3 against conference competition. State’s last winning season in league play was in 1988, when the Wolfpack posted a 6-0 record in league play to win its second consecutive regular-season title.
That 6-0 season capped off a string of eight straight winning seasons in ACC play, dating back to the inaugural year of ACC volleyball in 1981. During that span, the Pack under coaches Pat Hielscher and Judy Martino never lost more than two ACC contests.
Prior to Bunn’s arrival, the Wolfpack was 36-282 in ACC matches since 1988, its last winning season. That included a stretch from 2001 to 2007 in which the Pack was 1-127 in league matches.
So far in his three seasons of guiding NC State volleyball, Bunn has posted a 22-35 conference record. He doubled his total of four ACC wins in his first season, to a school-record eight last season. He has exceeded that total by two already this year, with three matches remaining on the schedule.