Courtesy: NC State Athletics
Dates: Friday & Saturday, September 14-15
Opponents: Arkansas (Fri.), Georgia (Sat.)
Location: Atlanta, Ga.
Site: O’Keefe Gym (Hosted by Georgia Tech)
Times: 4 p.m. (Fri.) | 1 p.m. (Sat.)
Live Stats: Georgia Tech Live Stats
RALEIGH, N.C. – The NC State volleyball team will wrap up its non-conference schedule this weekend when the squad travels to Atlanta to compete in the ACC-SEC Challenge. Georgia Tech will host the event and the Wolfpack will play Arkansas and Georgia.
The Pack takes the court against the Razorbacks at 4 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday to face the Bulldogs inside O’Keefe Gym on the Georgia Tech campus.
NC State enters the weekend with a 5-3 overall record, while Arkansas is 6-2 and Georgia is receiving votes for the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top-25 Poll with an 8-1 mark.
Last Time Out
The Wolfpack was dominant in its last outing to earn a 3-0 sweep against in-state foe Campbell last Sunday inside Reynolds Coliseum. NC State recorded a .269 team attacking percentage in the contest and limited Campbell to a .038 clip, the best defensive performance of the season for the Pack.
Mentor vs. Mentee
Third-year NC State volleyball head coach Linda Hampton-Keith will see a familiar face on the Arkansas bench when the teams square off Friday, as former Arizona State head coach Jason Watson now leads the program. Hampton-Keith spent five seasons as an assistant coach at ASU under Watson’s leadership before accepting the head coaching position at NCSU, spending the last three as associate head coach.
The duo helped turn the Sun Devils into a perennial NCAA Tournament team and the squad reached as high as No. 5 in the AVCA Poll in their final season in Tempe.
Wolfpack senior Kylie Pickrell played for Watson during her freshman season at ASU before his departure for Arkansas.
Evans’ Career Day
Last Friday against Wright State, sophomore Melissa Evans turned in one of the best performances of her young career as she tallied 18 kills in NC State’s 3-0 sweep, which stands as the most kills by any ACC player in a three-set match.
She put down four kills in the first set and seven apiece in the second and third sets. Evans also charted a .571 attacking percentage, which is a career high.
Kuchmaner Can Dig It
Senior libero Makenzie Kuchmaner has collected 143 digs this season, averaging 4.47 digs per set which is the fourth highest in the ACC. Her 20 digs in last Sunday’s win against Campbell are the tied for the third most by an ACC player in a three-set match this year.
Evans and Kuchmaner were both named to the Wolfpack-Camels Invitational held last weekend.
NC State has won the opening set in six of eight matches this season. The Wolfpack is outscoring opponents 183-170 in the first set.
The Pack has won the first set in all five of its wins and has won the opening set in each of the last four matches.
High Powered Attack
The Wolfpack has recorded more kills than its opponent in seven of eight matches. The lone match where the opponent tallied more kills was against Washington State, a team ranked No. 22 in the top-25 poll and unbeaten with a 7-0 record.
The Arkansas Razorbacks have turned in a strong start to the season, compiling a 6-2 record through the first eight matches. In their last outing, the Razorbacks swept their home tournament and did not drop a set with 3-0 wins against Butler, Buffalo and Northwestern.
NC State and Arkansas have only met twice in the history of the programs and the series is knotted at one apiece. Friday’s matchup will be the first since 1997 when the Razorbacks earned a 3-0 win at the Colorado State Invitational.
Hailey Dirrigl leads a balanced offensive attack with 74 kills, averaging 3.52 kills per set, while Elizabeth Pamphile has put down 71 kills and 2.54 kps. At setter, Rachel Rippee has handed out 10.89 assists per set and libero Okiana Valle paces the team with 4.29 digs per set, which ranks fourth in the SEC.
Arkansas owns a team attacking percentage of .227 and has held opponents to a .151 clip.
Georgia enters the weekend with an 8-1 overall record, highlighted by a 3-1 win against UNC-Chapel Hill in its last outing at the Buffs Invitational in Colorado. The Bulldogs are receiving 22 votes for this week’s top-25 poll, which is three spots shy of the top 25 at No. 28.
The Wolfpack and Bulldogs last met during the 2014 season when NC State earned a 3-1 win on Georgia’s home court. UGA leads the all-time series, 7-6.
Sophomore outside hitter T’ara Ceasar headlines the Bulldogs offense with 151 kills on the year, an average of 4.58 kills per set to rank first in the SEC and 13thnationally. Meghan Donovan is the team’s setter and has compiled 388 assists to average 11.41 assists per set. Ceasar is the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week and Donovan is the SEC Setter of the Week.
Georgia owns a .243 team attacking percentage and has held opponents to a .174 clip.