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NC State graduate student Melissa Evans (3) celebrates a point during the Wolfpack's exhibition game against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in Reynolds Coliseum on Saturday, August 21, 2021. Coastal Carolina defeated the Wolfpack 3-1 in the exhibition match, their first match of the season.

After starting the season 0-3 in the Tennessee Classic, the NC State volleyball team is now 7-8 overall and 1-3 in the ACC at the midway point of the 2021 season. That record is close to the same pace as the 2020 season when the Pack went 8-7 through its first 15 matches.

Following its trip to Tennessee, the Wolfpack went 2-1 in a three-match homestand, sweeping Wofford and East Carolina. The Pack then traveled to New Jersey where it won the Rutgers Tournament, sweeping Brown and NJIT and winning a gritty five-set match against Big Ten opponent Rutgers.

NC State then returned home for the ACC-SEC challenge in which the team won an exciting 3-1 match against Georgia, but was then swept by Arkansas the following night.

The Wolfpack began ACC play by getting a 3-1 win over Virginia at home and was then swept at home by then-No. 4 Pitt. In its most recent road trip, the Pack fell 3-1 to Florida State and before getting swept by Miami.

Midway through the season, NC State has gotten quality wins over Power Five opponents such as Rutgers, Georgia and Virginia but still has work to do to compete with teams in the upper tier of the ACC like Pitt, Florida State and Miami.

The Pack has proved that it can compete with some of the better teams in the conference with a set win against Florida State and keeping one set within just two points against both Pitt and Miami. For the Wolfpack, success is just a matter of finishing sets and putting together three really good sets instead of one.

The team is still being led by its two stars, senior outside hitter Jade Parchment and graduate opposite hitter Melissa Evans, each of whom are in the top 10 in the ACC in kills per set. Recently, Parchment recorded her 1,000th career kill, joining Evans in that milestone.

Improvement may start on defense as NC State ranks 14 out of 15 teams in the conference in opponent hitting percentage as well as ranking 11th in opponent kills and 14th in blocks. The team will also need its supporting players to step up in addition to the continued production out of Evans and Parchment to help ease the load.

Another area that the Pack needs to clean up if it wants to be more successful is errors. Thus far in ACC play, NC State has committed 27 more attack errors than its opponents. The Pack will need to become more efficient offensively if it wants to compete with tougher competition.

Overall, NC State has the stars. Now it needs consistency, balance and efficiency to be able to compete with the best of the ACC.

The Wolfpack now has 14 matches left this season, all of which are conference matches and seven of which are at home, starting with a home match on Friday, Oct. 8 against Virginia Tech in Reynolds Coliseum. That match will begin at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.

Senior Sports Writer

I'm Ben Ellis. I am in the NC State Class of 2023 majoring in history. I've been writing for Technician since November of 2019.