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    NC State Volleyball Is Flavored With Texas Influences

    Nov. 28, 2012

    NCAA Match Notes Get Acrobat Reader | NCAA Championship bracket Get Acrobat Reader | Buy Tickets

    NC State (22-9, 12-8) vs. Texas A&M (24-5, 16-4)
    5 p.m. (EST) | Thursday
    Gregory Gym | Austin, Texas
    Series record: Texas A&M leads, 3-0
    Last meeting: Aggies won 3-1 in the 1990 Texas A&M Aggies Classic.
    Gametracker | Live video | The Longhorn Network

    NC State vs. Texas (23-4)
    Big 12 Champions
    20th NCAA appearance
    Series record: Texas leads, 1-0
    Last meeting:Texas won, 3-0, in 2005 in the Ole Miss Magnolia Invitational in Oxford, Miss.

    NC State vs. Colgate (17-13)
    Patriot League Champions
    Third NCAA appearance
    Series record: None
    Last meeting: None

    Broadcast information: All matches will have live audio streamed for free on www.Texas All Texas matches will be  broadcast on ESPN’s The Longhorn Network, available on select cable and satellite providers.

    NC State’s 2012 Results
    Overall: 22-9; Home: 16-3; Away: 4-6; Neutral: 2-0.
    Atlantic Coast Conference: 12-8; Home 9-2; Away: 3-6.

    AUSTIN, Texas -- NC State doesn’t frequently match up against teams from Texas, but that doesn’t mean the players and coaches are unfamiliar with the Lone Star State.

    The Wolfpack (22-9 overall, 12-8 ACC) arrived on Wednesday morning to begin preparations for the program's second appearance in the NCAA Championship and its first since 1987. The Pack will place Texas A&M (24-5, 16-4 SEC) on Thursday at 5 p.m. (EST) at Texas's Gregory Gymnasium.

    Texas native Bryan Bunn, in his third season as NC State’s head coach, is quite familiar with volleyball in his home state. Bunn was born in San Antonio and went to both high school and college there. He graduated from Texas-San Antonio in 1988 with degrees in kinesiology and English and took his first coaching job as an assistant at Stephen F. Austin.

    He was named the head coach at NAIA school Texas Lutheran near San Antonio in 1994 and successfully guided the program for six seasons, posting a 171-66 record, winning two conference titles and earning two bids to the NAIA tournament.

    After seven years at North Florida, during which he guided the volleyball program’s transition from Division II to Division I status, Bunn returned to Texas as an associate head at Baylor, where he spent three seasons. The Bears were 56-40 during his time their and made their first ever appearance in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.

    Both of NC State’s assistant coaches have roots in and around Austin.

    Pete Hoyer, in his third season with the Pack, taught special education for seven years at three different Texas schools near Pflugerville, Texas, a suburb of Austin. He was also a coach of volleyball and track of the Hutto High School Hippos. He began his coaching career at Southwest Texas State in 1987 and earned a Master’s degree from the school in physical education in 1990.

    Assistant Jen Christian, in her first season with the Pack, came to Raleigh directly from Austin, where she had been part of the coaching staff at the Ali’i Girls Volleyball Club. She was also an assistant at the St. Stephens Prep School and for the Austin Juniors Volleyball Club.

    Christian, who played 98 matches as an outside hitter for the Longhorns’ volleyball program, is a 2008 Texas graduate with a degree in health promotion and fitness. She owns the school record with eight service aces in a three-game match.

    For sophomore Laura Blab, going to the NCAA tournament also means going home. The outside hitter grew up in Wimberley, an Austin suburb. The daughter of former Dallas Mavericks player and Indiana University standout basketball player Uwe Blab saw action earlier this season and as a freshman, but has been out since early September.

    “I was so excited when we watched the selection show, not only because we were going to the NCAAs but also because I knew I would get to go home,” Blab said.

    Former high school rivals and club teammates Rachel Buckley of Carrollton and and Alesha Wilson of Keller both hail from Dallas-Fort Worth, about five hours from Austin.

    Wilson has taken over a starting spot in the Wolfpack lineup this season, after seeing action in only three matches as a freshman. Buckley has been a big part of the Wolfpack attack in recent weeks.

    Texas A&M is making its 20th NCAA Tournament appearance since it began in 1981 and its fourth in the last five years. All-time, the Aggies are 23-19 in the even, including a 21-15 mark under the direction of veteran head coach Laurie Corbelli.

    A&M has twice advance to the regional finals, in both 1999 and 2001.

    Last year, the Aggies hosted a regional in College Station, Texas.

    Texas A&M finished second overall in its first season of competition in the Southeastern Conference and first in the Western Division. The Aggies are one of five SEC teams in the 64-team field, while the Wolfpack is one of four ACC teams, along with league champion Florida State, Miami and North Carolina.

    “I feel like we are playing really, really good volleyball,” Corbelli said of her team. “We have a good rhythm on our offense. Our setters are distributing the ball beautifully. Overall with the experience that we have and the talent that we have, we are playing as well as we have played in a long time.”

    The Pack is 1-5 against ranked teams this season and 2-5 against NCAA Championship teams, with wins over No. 23 North Carolina and College of Charleston.

    “They are going to be very, very tough,” Corbelli said. “I know the coaching staff, and I have seen their results. However, I don’t know a lot about their talent, the individual athletes.

    “I’m hoping that the SEC has prepared us well for whatever we do happen to see.”

    The Aggies are quite familiar, on the other hand, with host Texas and Gregory Gym.

    “For 20 years we have been playing over there, so there are no surprises,” she said. “We’ll have a lot of Aggies there in our contingency, and a lot of families will be able to be there. And it’s tournament time, so crazy things can happen, and you just have to go out and give it your best.

    "We have no pressure. We’ll just be prepared, and if we can get past the first round which is obviously our main focus, we’ll look forward to being in Gregory against the Longhorns.”

    This will be junior setter Katie Ganny’s second trip to Austin, Texas, for the NCAA Championships. The native of Centennial, Colo., was a member of American University’s team that qualified for the 2010 tournament and played against UCLA at Texas’s Gregory Gym.

    Ganny, who sat out the entire 2010 season with an injury, did not play in the 3-0 loss. She transferred to NC State prior to the 2011 season.

    Senior Megan Cyr, who began her career at Colorado, played Texas A&M twice as a redshirt freshman, once in College Station and one at home in Boulder, Colo. She also played a match at Texas’s Gregory Gym.

    The Wolfpack is one of four ACC teams to earn a berth in the 64-team field, along with champion Florida State, Miami and North Carolina.

    It's the Wolfpack's first NCAA match since the 1987 team lost 3-0 to Kentucky in the first round in Lexington, Ky.

    The Aggies, competing in their first season of Southeastern Conference play, are 24-5 overall and 16-4 in the league, winning the Western Division and finishing second overall.

    “I was confident that we had a shot,” Bunn said, after his team watched the announcement on ESPNU at a Raleigh restaurant. “These girls have always been greater than the sum of their parts. That’s a testament to them and how hard they’ve worked since they have been here.

    “This is a cherry on top of the ice cream we have had all season.”

    For Bunn, a successful coach at both North Florida and Texas Lutheran, the invitation was even earlier than he expected when he was hired to take over the program in 2010.

    “This was one of our goals when we got here, to make it into the NCAA Tournament,” said Bunn, who has guided the Pack to back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 1995-96. “It happened a little sooner than I thought it would. That’s great. It’s going to help our program in the long run.

    “We had hoped to be at this point in year four or five. These kids have worked their butts off and it pays off when you work that hard.”

    The Wolfpack set a school record for ACC victories with 12, breaking the record of eight Bunn’s team set last year. The total of 22 overall victories is the most for an NC State team since 1983, when Judy Martino guided the Pack to a 23-15 record, which included a 1-1 mark in the now-defunct ACC Tournament.

    The 22 victories are the most regular-season wins for the program since 1982, when the Pack was 24-11 in Pat Heilscher’s final season. That included a 1-1 ACC Tournament mark.

    The NC State volleyball team, which concluded the regular season in fourth place in the 2012 ACC standings, not only matched the program’s best league finish since 1988, it also posted the school’s most overall wins since the 1983 team finished 23-15 in Judy Martino’s inaugural season. That total included a 1-1 record in the now-defunct ACC Tournament.

    For the second consecutive match and the seventh time this season, NC State pushed an opponent to five sets, but was unable to finish off a comeback win the day before Thanksgiving, losing 3-2 to No. 23 North Carolina at Carmichael Arena in Chapel Hill, N.C.

    The Wolfpack opened the match with a 28-26 win in the first set, dropped the next two games and tied the match with a 26-24 win in the fourth. The Tar Heels (25-5, 16-4) surged ahead for a 15-7 win in the decisive fifth set, scoring eight of the set’s final nine points.

    “We gave up too many points in a row during crucial times in the match,” said third-year head coach Bryan Bunn. “If you do that against a good team like Carolina, you can’t battle back.”

    The Pack’s hitters also had a tough time against Carolina’s taller front line. State hit only .071 in the match to the Tar Heels’ .204. Sophomore Dariyan Hopper was the only State hitter with double-digit kills, posting a team-high 13 kills and 10 errors on 53 attacks.

    Junior Brie Merriwether and sophomores Rachel Buckley and Alesha Wilson all had seven kills apiece for the Wolfpack. Sophomore Nikki Glass had a team-high 20 digs, while Wilson contributed seven total blocks.

    Senior Megan Cyr, named to the 2012 All-ACC team earlier in the day, finished with 31 assists.

    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 100 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.



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