Volleyball Hopes to Build on Solid Foundation
Dec. 16, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. – NC State’s 2011 volleyball season will be remembered as a breakthrough campaign for the Wolfpack, not only because of the multiple school and ACC records set during the 33 matches, but also because it set the foundation for greater success in the future.
Behind the leadership of four seniors – record-setting libero Kelly Wood of Yadkinville, N.C.; middle blocker Margaret Salata of Buffalo Grove, Ill., and outside hitters Luciana Shafer of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., and Becah Fogle of Leander, Texas – the Wolfpack posted a 20-13 overall record and an 8-12 ACC mark, despite a young roster that featured 11 of 19 players in their first season in the program.
“It was a fun ride, and we did a lot of good things,” said second-year head coach Bryan Bunn. “We accomplished some, but not all of our goals. It was a good season, but we realize it could have been even better.
“We took a lot of steps forward in learning how to win, and that’s an important part of our building process. Now we know how hard we need to work in the off-season to get even better for next year.”
The eight league wins broke the previous school record of six, which was set in 1983 and matched on three other occasions, most recently in 1995. The Wolfpack also won a school record four ACC road matches, established a school-record 13-match winning streak and had its first winning season since the 1996 squad went 21-16.
The Pack finished tied for seventh of 12 teams in the nationally prominent ACC, its best finish since the 1999 team finished tied for seventh of nine ACC teams. It also set both a school and conference record by playing six consecutive five-set matches, all against conference competition.
Several players received recognition for their outstanding efforts, including Salata, who became the first Wolfpack player since 2005 to earn a spot on the All-ACC team. She was also named ACC player of the week on Nov. 14, after leading the Wolfpack to victories over Clemson and Georgia Tech.
On the season, Salata had a team- and career-high 382 kills, 25 solo blocks and 164 total blocks, which is the second highest single-season total in school history. She also had a hitting percentage of .355 to rank in the top 10 of all ACC players.
She finished her career ranked No. 4 on the career blocks list with 415 and had a four-year hitting percentage of .296.
Freshman Dariyan Hopper of Minooka, Ill., and Nicole Glass of Colorado Springs, Colo., both won a pair of ACC Freshman of the Week honors. Hopper also became the first Wolfpack newcomer since 2003 to earn a spot on the ACC All-Freshman team.
Wood, in her fourth year as a starter, became the school’s all-time career leader with 1,836 digs. She also had a career-high 527 digs on the season, the second highest single-season mark in school history.
For her career, Wood played in 483 of a possible 484 games the last four years, which ranks in the top five in school history.
Junior Megan Cyr, who played in every set of every match this season, had a career-high 1,293 assists. The native of St. Andrews, Manitoba, Canada, already ranks sixth in career assists after just two seasons with the Wolfpack, after transferring into the program from Colorado.
Cyr, Glass and sophomore middle blocker Brie Merriwether all earned most valuable player honors for their play in three of the Wolfpack’s preseason tournaments. Merriwether was named the MVP of NC State’s Courtyard Midtown Classic in Reynolds Coliseum, Glass was MVP of the Hilton Garden Inn Mayfaire Classic in Wilmington, N.C., and Cyr was selected as the MVP of the Pack’s Courtyard Midtown Invitational.
A slew of freshmen earned significant playing on the season, particularly at outside hitter. Hopper, Glass and Rachel Buckley all saw action at outside hitter throughout the season. Glass was second to Salata with 271 kills on the season, followed by Hopper with 244 and Buckley with 163.
North Carolina natives Alston Kearns and Hannah Thompson both saw plenty of playing time on the back line. Kearns was a starter for most of the season, playing in a total of 115 games and posting 287 digs. Thompson had 35 digs in 34 sets.
In 2012, Bunn will have a more experienced team, led by seniors Cyr and defensive specialist/libero Alexa Micek of Oxnard, Calif.
The coach also welcomes a heralded four-player recruiting class of middle blockers Morgan Cormier of Carlsbad, Calif., and Hannah Holkum of Edmond, Olka.; setter Kaitlyn LaMantia of Chantilly, Va.; and middle blocker/outside hitter Courtney Reiman of Omaha, Neb.
The four newcomers will add height and athleticism to the roster, Bunn says.
“We feel good about the steps we took this past season and we hope to make even bigger strides next year,” Bunn said. “It was nice to have some success this year, but we know where we need to improve and we know how hard we need to work in the offseason to get where we want to go.”