The Wolfpacker

September 2018

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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66 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY WILL EUDY T he past two years have been filled with success for third-year volley- ball head coach Linda Hampton- Keith and her program. In 2016, the program went 20- 12, including a 13-7 mark in the league. Last year's campaign saw the team win a school-record 15 ACC games, finish un- defeated in the conference at home and record its first NCAA Tournament victory in school history. Going forward, Hampton-Keith stressed each year the team will have a unique ap- proach to achieving the program's goals. "It's easy to get caught up in trying to re- tain success, but what we're trying to do is create our own identity each season," she said. "It's going to be very different from year to year." This fall, the Pack will rely on the leader- ship and play of their seniors, as they did last year. "We're going to be pretty experienced in some key positions," Hampton-Keith noted. The experience starts with setter Kylie Pickrell, who returns for her senior season after an All-ACC performance in 2017. The Arizona State transfer was named preseason All-ACC heading into the 2018 campaign. "It's huge to have continuity in that posi- tion," the head coach said. Sophomore opposite hitter Melissa Evans returns after an injury-limited season that saw her earn ACC All-Freshman honors despite appearing in just 20 matches. Hampton-Keith expects her to become one of the leaders of this team. "We're going to look to her to carry some of that load," she said. Middle blocker Teni Sopitan is aiming for Senior setter Kylie Pickrell transferred from Arizona State and debuted in Raleigh last year with first-team All-ACC honors. She paced the league with 1,301 assists. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW ■ Key Games • Vs. VCU and Washington State, Aug. 24/26: On its opening weekend, the Pack will play host to two NCAA Tournament teams from last year. The Rams are the reigning Atlantic 10 Conference champions and were winners of 27 matches in a row in 2017. The Cougars started last season 11-1 and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. • At North Carolina, Sept. 26: The rival Tar Heels are picked to finish sixth in the conference and will be a solid test for the Wolfpack in their first ACC road game. • Vs. No. 20 Pittsburgh, Oct. 14: As the highest- ranked team on the Pack's schedule and the pre - season ACC favorite, the Panthers provide a great op- portunity for the Pack to compete against a high-level opponent in front of the Reynolds Coliseum faithful. BACK TO BACK The Wolfpack Will Push To Return To The NCAA Tournament For The Second Straight Season

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