The NC State volleyball team completed its sweep of the weekend in the Rutgers 9/11 Memorial Tournament in Piscataway, New Jersey, defeating NJIT 3-0. With the win, the Pack moves over .500 for the first time this season and earns the tournament’s title.
Graduate opposite hitter Melissa Evans was named Tournament MVP, and earned All-Tournament Team honors next to senior outside hitter Jade Parchment. The two were clutch all tournament long, with Evans going for 46 total kills across the tourney, and Parchment earning 40 of her own. In the final match of tournament play against NJIT, Evans notched 13 kills and boasted a .458 hitting percentage, while Parchment had 13 kills of her own and accounted for 13.5 of the Wolfpack’s (5-4) points on the day.
Redshirt junior outside hitter Taylor Rowland was also fantastic on the offensive side of the net as she tallied nine kills and 11 total points. But no player’s development has been quite as exciting as that of freshman middle blocker Jada Allen. Allen, who has been phenomenal all season, had eight kills and an astounding .636 hitting percentage.
Allen’s dominance was on full display across the entirety of the tournament, as she put up 33 kills in total and only dipped below a .500 hitting percentage in one match. Keep an eye out on Allen to take the reins of the offensive workload, with Evans set to exit the program after the year. On the year, Allen has 79 kills, 98 points and a very strong .418 hitting percentage to go along with her 24 blocks and 20 digs on the defensive side of the net.
Without junior setter Kristen McDaniel, who exited the Pack’s second match of the tournament against Rutgers with an injury, freshman setter Maggie Jones stepped in and stepped up in a big way. In her first full game of the season, Jones put up 41 assists, a career-high for the young setter. Her 13.7 assists per set would rank second-best on the team this season, only behind McDaniel’s opener against ETSU.
The first set of the day was a bit of back-and-forth action for the Wolfpack, with the team jumping out to an early 4-0 lead before the Highlanders quickly responded with their own run. The Pack ultimately came out victorious, led by an extremely solid 4 of 5 showing from Allen.
That was the closest NJIT got to making the match competitive. After NC State took the first set by just three points, it proceeded to outscore the Highlanders 50-33 for the rest of the day. The second set first appeared to be a fiercely-contested matchup, with 10 ties setting the tone early, but the Pack rode an 11-3 run and never looked back, recording three service aces along the way.
In the third and final set of the afternoon, the Highlanders were held to just a .107 hitting percentage. Evans earned six of her kills in the third set, and the team as a whole managed to rack up 18.
Seeing the Pack take advantage of lesser teams is a positive sign, and is a feeling that the team will try to replicate as it moves further into the season. After starting off the season on a rough note, the Wolfpack has certainly bounced back and has won five of its last six games. While these wins were perhaps expected, they definitely weren’t certain.
Next up, the Wolfpack will return to Reynolds Coliseum for the 2021 ACC-SEC Challenge, where it will face off against Georgia and Arkansas on back-to-back days. Both matches are expected to be tightly contested and should provide a nice litmus test for where NC State stands in the ACC’s hierarchy. The first of the two matches of the challenge comes against Georgia, which will take place on Thursday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m.