Nov. 20, 2012
Weekly Notes (Nov. 21)
NC State (22-8, 12-7) at North Carolina (24-5, 15-4)
2 p.m. | Wednesday
Carmichael Arena | Chapel Hill, N.C.
Series record: UNC leads, 75-29
Last meeting: NC State won 3-1 on Sept. 14 at Reynolds Coliseum.
Live Webcast | Live Stats
The Last Meeting
September 14, 2012
Volleyball Rolls Over North Carolina, 3-1
NC State won its ACC opener for the second time in three seasons under head coach Bryan Bunn, topping the Tar Heels at Reynolds Coliseum to go to 10-1 overall and 1-0 in the ACC.
NC State's season records
Overall: 22-8; Home: 16-3; Away: 4-5; Neutral: 2-0.
Atlantic Coast Conference: 12-7; Home 9-2; Away: 3-5.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Included in the goals for this year's NC State volleyball team was an improvement in overall wins, ACC victories and an upper-half finish in the league standings.
Check, check and check.
Now, heading into the Wolfpack's regular-season finale at North Carolina on Wednesday, third-year head coach Bryan Bunn and his team are hoping to solidify their chances for the No. 1 goal they have been reaching for all season: a bid to the NCAA Championship.
"It's really a no-lose situation for us," Bunn said of the 2 p.m. contest at Carmichael Arena. "If we go in there and win, it solifies our chances to make the field. I don't think a loss hurts us too much. It's not something that will knock us down 10 or 12 spots in the RPI.
"So what we have talked about this week is that this is a great opportunity for us to go in there and play loose and play without fear."
The Wolfpack (22-8 overall, 12-7 ACC) has made only one appearance in the NCAAs in the program's 38-year history. That was back in 1987 when head coach Judy Martino guided her team to a 5-1 regular-season league record and the school's only title in the now-defunct ACC Tournament.
Martino's team traveled to Lexington, Ky., where it fell 3-0 to host Kentucky.
Since the beginning of the season, Bunn's team has plastered Sunday's date, Nov. 25, in the lockerroom and on the players' calendars. That's when this year's 64-team field will be announced by the NCAA on ESPNU, with 31 conference champions and 33 at-large participants. (The ACC champion has been determined since 2005 by the final regular-season standings, with tiebreakers.)
Bunn's team is currently ranked No. 42 in the NCAA College Volleyball RPI, with a 1-4 record against teams ranked in the top 25 and a 9-3 record against other top 100 teams. The Pack is 12-1 against all other teams, with the only loss coming at Wake Forest.
Its best non-conference wins are over No. 55 College of Charleston and No. 62 Ohio, with its only non-conference loss being a 3-2 setback to No. 66 Virginia Commonwealth in the NC State Courtyard Midtown Invitational at Reynolds Coliseum.
The Tar Heels, ranked No. 19 in the current RPI rankings, are the highest ranked opponent the Wolfpack has beaten this season. Another win over the Heels would be a decisive statement on the Pack's NCAA resume, Bunn said.
"North Carolina is playing very well right now," Bunn said. "I think we are playing okay. We have been working on our serve-receive, which has been a little shaky.
"Overall, though, we feel pretty good about where we are right now, heading into this final match."
Earlier this season, the Pack posted a 3-1 win over the Tar Heels in Reynolds Coliseum, the eighth contest in a 13-match homestand for Bunn's team. The victory broke Carolina's eight-match winning streak, thanks to 18 kills and a .441 hitting average by junior Brie Merriwether. Junior Meredith Richardson and sophomore Dariyan Hopper had eight kills apiece.
The Tar Heels (24-5, 15-4) have won 11 of their last 12 matches to solidify third place in the ACC, including wins over Florida State and Miami, who share first place in the league standings and will meet Friday to determine the league champion.
A free live stream of the State-Carolina match will be available via UNC's www.tarheelblue.com. Fans can also follow it on Gametracker on GoPack.com.
The Wolfpack concluded its regular-season home schedule with a pair of wins over Virginia and Virginia Tech over the weekend that guaranteed State its first winning season in ACC play since 1988.
Sophomore Dariyan Hopper led the Pack offense in the two victories, with a team-high 10 kills against the Cavaliers and a career-high 23 kills against the Hokies. She hit .382 in the two matches, as the Pack improved its records to 22-8 overall and 12-7 in the ACC, extending its school record for league wins in a season.
Hopper's total against the Hokies was two more than her previous career high of 21, set against Virginia Tech last season. The Senior Day win over the Hokies was a dramatic affair, as Virginia Tech grabbed an early 2-0 lead. The Wolfpack caught fire after the break, however, storming back to win three in a row in the five-set match. It's the fourth time in the last two seasons the Pack has won a match after losing the first two sets, which happened against Wisconsin and Georgia Tech last season and UNC Wilmington and Virginia Tech this season.
The Pack's last winning season in the ACC came in 1988, when State won the ACC regular season with a perfect 6-0 record. Under third-year head coach Bryan Bunn, the Pack has won four, eight and 12 league matches in his three seasons. The latter two totals erased the previous school record of six ACC wins. The Wolfpack concludes the regular season on Wednesday, when it travels to Chapel Hill to face North Carolina in a 2 p.m. contest at Carmichael Arena.
The Wolfpack will find out Sunday, Nov. 25, at 4 p.m. whether its record-setting success in 2012 will be enough to earn a spot in the 64-team NCAA Championships when the brackets are announced on ESPNU. The Wolfpack has made only one NCAA appearance in its 38-year volleyball history, losing 3-0 to Kentucky in the first round of the 1987 tournament in Lexington, Ky.
BUNN'S 4-8-12 ACC PROGRESSION
This is the 38th season of Wolfpack volleyball and its 32nd season of ACC play. In that time, the Pack has won a total of 99 conference matches. Nearly a quarter of those wins have come during the short coaching tenure of third-year head coach Bryan Bunn, who inherited a program that had won only 27 matches in the 16 years prior to his arrival, a period that spanned three different head coaches.
In his three seasons, Bunn has changed the fortunes of the program he inherited, which from 2001-2007 was 1-127 in ACC play. He has not only guided the Wolfpack to impressive back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 1995-96, he has led the Pack to school-record ACC victory totals in each of the last two years, at least a fourth-place finish in this year's league standings and the program's first winning season in ACC play since the 1988 team was 6-0 against league competition.
In his inaugural season of 2010, Bunn led the Pack to a 14-18, 4-16 mark in ACC play. Last year, the Pack was 20-13 with an 8-12 mark in league play. Heading into Wednesday's regular-season final, the Pack is 22-8 overall and 12-7 in the ACC.
His progression of four, eight and 12 league victories has given him a total of 24 ACC triumphs in his tenure with the Wolfpack, with a winning percentage of .407. That's more than double the winning percentage in the school's first 29 years of ACC play (.192).
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 Virginia guaranteed the Pack's first wnning season in ACC play since the 1988 team went 6-0 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 24-35 conference record. He doubled his total of four ACC wins in his first season, to a school-record eight last season. He has added four more to that record this year, with one match remaining on the schedule.
HOPPER'S CAREER NIGHT
Sophomore outside hitter Dariyan Hopper had the biggest night of her Wolfpack career on Saturday, when she posted a career-high 23 kills and a .375 hitting average. She also led the Pack with 10 kills in Friday night's 3-0 sweep of Virginia.
A native of Shorewood, Ill., Hopper's previous career best was 21 kills during her freshman season against Virginia Tech, which seems to bring out the best in Hopper. In four career matches against the Hokies, she has averaged 19.3 kills and a .247 hitting average.
Hopper also had 10 kills and hit .400 in the Pack's 3-0 sweep of Virginia on Friday night. Her play during the week earned her Co-ACC Player of the Week honors with Miami senior Nrithya Sundararaman.
Hopper joins senior Megan Cyr and sophomore Alesha Wilson as Wolfpack players who have won ACC Player of the Week honors this season. Freshman Morgan Cormier also won ACC Freshman of the Week honors this season.
WOLFPACK SIGNS SETTER MAGGIE SPEAKS
Maggie Speaks, a 5-10 setter from Camden, S.C., has signed a national letter of intent to play volleyball at NC State, head coach Bryan Bunn announced on Monday.
Speaks, a three-time region player of the year and three-time all-state selection, was named the South Carolina Coaches Association Women's Sport Player of the Year.
Ranked as one of the top players in the state of South Carolina, Speaks finished her senior season with 344 kills, 41 service aces, 107 blocks, 141 digs and 245 assists while helping her team to a 26-10-4 record and to the third round of the Class AAA state playoffs.
"Maggie adds good size and athletic ability to our setting position," Bunn said. "She's a great blocker and will challenge for playing time immediately."
Speaks -- who owns a 3.87 grade point average and is a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club and Key Club -- intends to enroll at NC State in January, so she will be able to go through spring workouts with the Wolfpack.
"This will give her a great advantage when we begin our fall practices," Bunn said.