Unfortunately for Pack volleyball, the spring season was cut short due to COVID-19 contact tracing, but there is still plenty to take away from the nine games played this spring. Despite a losing record, the Wolfpack (8-9, 7-9 ACC) made a huge leap from the 2019 season and has plenty to be excited about in upcoming years.
Luka Slabe’s premier year
In addition to being easily one of the strangest years for sports ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NC State also introduced a new head coach to its volleyball program this year, Luka Slabe. There are a lot of remarkable things to talk about, but what stands out the most about him is his history with the Slovenian National Team, where he was able to lead the team to earn eight national and international championship titles in his two years as head coach.
In just one season, it’s hard to tell the impact Slabe has had on the NC State volleyball program, but given the improved record, these next few years should show a stronger, more dominating Pack volleyball team.
Despite the team’s average numbers being relatively low and ultimately leading to a disappointing end to the season, there are two players who need to be mentioned for stellar performances this year. Between senior Melissa Evans and junior Jade Parchment, NC State’s upperclassmen were strong this season, but in this sport, it requires an entire roster to dominate.
Evans made the All-ACC First Team, marking her fourth time receiving ACC honors. Evans led the team in kills with 230, which ranks sixth in the ACC. This season marked a landmark for Evans, as she achieved her 1,000th career kill and became one of four active ACC players with that achievement. She is also sixth in the ACC in points earned this season with 258.5.
Parchment made the All-ACC Second Team for her first career ACC honor. Parchment led the team in service aces with 15. She ranked eighth in the ACC for kills with 219 and points with 244. Additionally, Parchment received ACC Player of the Week for the week of Nov. 3 after the Pack swept Virginia Tech.
Disappointing spring season (4-5 ACC)
This spring season showed a team that just wasn’t able to keep up and adjust like it did in the fall. The Pack went .500 in the fall season and finished up before the break on a four-match win streak against Virginia and Virginia Tech. Four out of the five losses the Pack recorded this spring were shutouts. NC State just wasn’t able to put points on the board like it needed to.
NC State was able to carry over improvement against Duke, losing to the Blue Devils twice in the early part of the fall but defeating them 3-2 in the opening match of the spring, showing hope that this spring season would show a stronger team right off the bat. The Pack went on to lose its next three matches. NC State’s longest winning streak in the spring was three matches against Clemson, Wake Forest and Boston College, all teams that have struggled more than NC State this year.
Maybe it was the oddity of the circumstances in which this season was played, but this year was a rollercoaster for anyone following NC State volleyball. Remain hopeful for next season, however, as Slabe hopefully returns most of the roster for his second season and continues to push for success and improvement from this team.