RALEIGH, N.C. – The NC State volleyball team came up short in a tightly-contested season opener against the eighth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, 3-1 (25-20, 25-23, 23-25, 26-24), Friday evening inside Reynolds Coliseum. The match featured 26 ties and 12 lead changes, as the teams battled to gain an advantage throughout the match.
The Jayhawks move to 1-0 on the season, while the Wolfpack falls to 0-1.
Overall thoughts on the match…
“I thought we had some really good chances, especially towards the end,” said head coach Linda Hampton-Keith. “It just took us a little while to get our offense going, so hopefully moving forward we can get going a little sooner. I thought we had a nice showing, but no moral victories. We had our chances to win and didn’t take them.”
On the play of Kylie Pickrell and Melissa Evans…
“They both played great. For Melissa to put up those kind of numbers in her collegiate debut against a top-10 team was really impressive. She did a fantastic job and I was really impressed with her poise.
“Kylie has a lot of experience and we’re able to do a lot of different things with her and it was a fantastic debut in an NC State jersey for both of them.”
– Freshman Melissa Evans made her collegiate debut in the contest and tallied a team-high 14 kills to go along with two blocks and two digs.
– Kylie Pickrell, also a newcomer after transferring into the program last spring, finished the match two kills shy of a triple double as she logged 23 assists, 18 digs and eight kills.
– Kansas started fast in the contest, as the Jayhawks jumped out to a 14-7 lead in the first set to force an NC State timeout.
– Out of the timeout, the Wolfpack scored five consecutive points with Pickrell at the service line to trim the lead to 14-12.
– After Kansas extended the lead to 21-17, the teams traded rallies down the stretch before consecutive kills from the Jayhawks to take the first set, 25-20.
– The Pack led early in the second set following a kill by senior Julia Brown to make it 4-2. Kansas countered with a 7-1 run, but NC State did not go away.
– Trailing 23-20, Evans swatted back-to-back kills to pull her team within a point and force a KU timeout.
– NC State fought off Kansas’ first set point opportunity, but a service error gave the Jayhawks a 2-0 lead in the match with a 25-23 second-set win.
– The Wolfpack started to get into a rhythm offensively in the third set, as the squad notched a .333 attacking percentage in the frame with 16 kills.
– A 9-2 run helped NC State pull away briefly at 21-16, but Kansas responded to cut into the deficit.
– After gaining a 24-21 advantage, the Jayhawks fended off two set-point attempts before Evans converted with a kill for the Wolfpack to clinch the set, 25-23.
– The fourth set was tightly contested, as neither team led by more than three points and the score was tied 16 times.
– NC State won three of four points late in the frame to own set point at 24-23, but Kansas won the next three rallies to win the set, 26-24, and the match, 3-1.
– Evans’ 14 kills led the way for NC State offensively, while graduate student Bree Bailey swatted 10 kills in her Wolfpack debut. Brown tallied nine, Pickrell had eight and Kaitlyn Kearney chipped in with seven.
– Pickrell and Becky Porter split time at the setter position, with the former handing out 23 and the latter 18 assists.
– Defensively, Pickrell headlined the group with 18 digs and Porter pitched in with 15. Libero Makenzie Kuchmaner collected 14 digs and Brown had 11. Kearney tallied a match-high seven blocks, including the only solo block in the match.
NC State returns to court at 3:30 p.m. Saturday for a matchup with the Missouri State Bears. It will be the first meeting between the schools in the history of their respective programs.