Starting off its season with two straight wins against Austin Peay and Kansas State, the NC State Volleyball team will head to Boone, NC to compete in the 2019 Appalachian State Invitational this weekend.
Coming off of its most recent loss against East Carolina, the Wolfpack will be looking to bounce back with a win when the women face Western Carolina on Friday at 4 p.m. inside Holmes Convocation Center. With the Catamounts boasting a 2-4 record on the season so far, NC State will be neck-and-neck in this matchup, fighting for the win.
Redshirt sophomore libero Kaylee Frazier has been dominating on the Wolfpack’s back line as she’s averaged 5.57 digs per set this season and was the only defensive player named to the VCU Invitational All-Tournament team. In her first season as libero, Frazier continues to control the defensive aspect of the matches to allow for her teammates to finish out the point with a kill.
Leading Western Carolina with 72 kills on the season with a .184 attacking percentage, outside hitter Merry Gebel will be Frazier’s biggest competition when the sophomore is on the net. While Gebel has become one of the Catamounts greatest assets on the front line, she also leads her team in aces with nine.
After play wraps up on Friday afternoon for the Wolfpack, the ladies will head back to the courts Saturday afternoon when they face Iowa State at 1 p.m. With six split games under their belts, the Cyclones will head into the weekend with a .500 winning percentage after recently taking down the University of Northern Iowa, 3-1.
For this match-up, junior opposite hitter Melissa Evans will be the Wolfpack’s most essential player on the court due to her undeniable strength at the net. As Evans leads her team in kills and points with 81 and 4.09 per set this season, the junior will have to demonstrate her placement skills in order to find the open gaps between the blocks and on the court.
With Evans up at the net, the Cyclones will have their best blocker up against her, middle blocker Avery Rhodes. Rhodes is currently boasting 27 total blocks on the season, averaging 4.5 per match as she stands at 6-foot-2.
After closing out its last two matches with losses, the Mountaineers will be in search to come out on top this weekend on their home court. Facing Western Carolina and Iowa State before the Wolfpack, Appalachian State will be well rested and ready to bring their best. With a quick turnaround for NC State, the two teams will face off almost immediately after the Pack closes out its match against the Cyclones with the first serve set for 6:30 p.m. on Saturday evening.
In order for the Wolfpack to take three sets from the Mountaineers, the ladies will need their top blocker at the net to stop any offensive gain from Appalachian State. Senior middle blocker Lauryn Terry will be leveraging the Pack’s defensive stops as she leads her team in blocks this season with 21. Standing at the net at 6-foot-3, Terry will be bringing the most intimidating factor to the front line to halt the Mountaineer’s kill attempts.
Outside hitter Emma Longley will be one of Terry’s biggest challenges at the net as the senior leads the Mountaineers in kills this season with 89. Longley’s ability to skillfully place the ball through openings in the blocks allows for her success rate offensively.
NC State’s play will begin Friday afternoon inside Holmes Convocation Center at 4 p.m. against Western Carolina. Live stats will be available for all matches and Saturday evening’s game against Appalachian State will be broadcast live on ESPN+.