Torbett: Defense led Pirates past N.C. State
BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
One of the many defining moments in East Carolina volleyball's 3-2 win at N.C. State on Tuesday night happened during the third set.
The Wolfpack won Games 1 and 2 and was on the verge of sweeping ECU, but the Pirates staved off defeat and rallied from there for their most impressive victory this season (19-25, 19-25, 29-27, 25-21, 15-10) and a potential breakthrough night for seventh-year coach Julie Torbett and her squad.
The win over NCSU gave ECU a 5-1 record, all in road matches, heading into hosting the Pirate Invitational in Minges Coliseum on Friday and Saturday.
"We led a lot of the way in all of the sets, but holding off two match points to get that win definitely elevated us to also get the fourth and fifth sets," Torbett said during a phone interview Wednesday morning. "It was a fun environment and we were down 2-0, so we did it in dramatic fashion. It showed that we have a lot of fight in us."
ECU's victory also helped to set the stage for another Pirate team, women's soccer, to host N.C. State at Johnson Stadium on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
The volleyball Pirates already are 2-0 this year in five-set matches. That compares to an 0-3 mark in 2018, when ECU faced a slew of injuries and finished 13-16 after going 22-11 in 2017 and 15-15 the previous year.
"I'm very proud of the team, and any time we can beat a Power Five or an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent or a down-the-road rival, it's a good day," Torbett said.
The coach added that some of the players who missed matches a year ago, like libero Brandee Markwith and outside hitter Kalee Vanderhorst, were paramount in pushing the Pirates past the Wolfpack.
Vanderhorst is a heavy hitter for ECU along with being a key defender alongside blocks leader Toya Osuegbu. Shelby Martin is averaging 6.71 assists per set for a Pirate squad that beat Providence in a five-set match on Sept. 1 and will host George Washington on Friday at 7 p.m., then Norfolk State (1 p.m.) and USC-Upstate (7 o'clock) on Saturday.
"(Matches) are free this year so that is great for people to come out and bring friends and family," Torbett said. "This is a fun team to watch because we have a lot of power, but we also have some finesse about us as well. We are a little bigger, size-wise at the net, so we had 17 team blocks to N.C. State's eight blocks and I thought our defense was really what made the difference."
East Carolina's women's golf team completed its first match of a new season this week under first-year coach CC Buford, who saw her Pirates post a second-place finish at the 36-hole Minnesota Invitational in Woodbury, Minn.
ECU (13-1) finished second in the same event that it won in 2014 and was runner-up one year later.
Senior Siranon Shoomee led the Pirates this time, posting a career-low finish with a share of third place at 6-under-par 138. Her second-round 68 (4 under) tied her career-low round from the 2017 American Athletic Conference championships. Junior Dorthea Forbrigd earned her 12th-career top 10 with a 1 under for a share of seventh place.
East Carolina baseball recently added Austin Knight, a four-year letterwinner at Ole Miss from 2012-15, as a volunteer assistant coach. He replaced Hunter Allen, who was hired by former Pirate coach Billy Godwin at UNC Greensboro to be a full-time assistant for the Spartans.
Knight spent the last two years at Louisiana Tech as a volunteer assistant specializing in working with catchers.
"He is a coach's son who has caught at the highest level collegiately at Ole Miss and also played in the 2014 College World Series," ECU head coach Cliff Godwin said in a release. "Austin brings a wealth of knowledge about the game of baseball to our program."
The East Carolina women's soccer team is 2-2-1 with four matches remaining in its nonconference schedule, and they are all versus regional opponents.
ECU, which shut out UNC Asheville and Virginia Military Institute on the road last weekend, hosts Old Dominion Thursday at 7 p.m. before playing at Charlotte on Sunday. N.C. State at ECU is Wednesday at 7 p.m., followed by a few days off before the Pirates play at UNC Greensboro next Sunday.
Contact Ronnie Woodward at email@example.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.