The Wolfpacker

September 2013

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Sustaining Success I Wolfpack Looks To Build On 2012 Breakthrough By Matt Carter t had been 25 years between NCAA Tournament appearances for NC State when the Pack earned an at-large bid last season. State ended 2012 with a 22‑10 record, including a 12-8 mark in ACC play for its first winning conference campaign since 1988. ■PREVIEW volleyball During the process, the Pack set school records for most conference wins and longest winning streak (13 matches), beat all the instate league rivals in the same season for the first time ever and posted the program's most overall wins since 1983. The task for NC State is not to rest on last season but build on it. "Every year is a new year," fourth-year head volleyball coach Bryan Bunn noted. "We have some new players, lose some players, so we have a different identity than last year. We got on them all spring about being hungry and working hard and taking the next step." Bunn said that the goal every year is to make the NCAA Championships, and he was encouraged by the conditioning test results when the players returned to practice in August. There are reasons for hopes to be high in Raleigh. State returns a significant por- ■ Key Games To Watch • Sept. 29, vs. Notre Dame — The Fighting Irish are the first of three ACC newcomers NCSU will face this season. • Nov. 3, at Florida State — The Noles are the ACC's two-time defending champs and went 28‑4 overall last season. They are expected to be the top team in the league again in 2013 and were the only conference squad ranked in the preseason AVCA poll (No. 18). • Nov. 20, vs. North Carolina — NC State split with its archrivals last year. UNC will host NCSU Sept. 25 in the Pack's conference opener. The Heels, along with FSU and Miami, are considered the cream of the crop in the league in 2013. tion of its contributors from last year's team. Nine letter winners are back, and only two seniors are gone. One departed senior, libero/ defensive specialist Alexa Micek, split time last season with Alston Kearns, a junior who returns at the position. The other senior, though, was Megan Cyr, and she leaves big shoes to fill. The Colorado transfer played three seasons at NC State, and in that time the setter piled up 3,660 career assists, which ranks third on the Wolfpack's all-time list. She was an All-ACC and AVCA All-American selection in 2012, and replacing her is what Bunn referred to as the "big one" when he reflected on the question marks on this year's team. "Everybody else played last year," Bunn stated. "We have a lot of experience coming back, so it's about getting the setters up to par. "It helps a ton that there is experience around them. We've got seven or eight people that are back. It'll definitely help them." The leading candidates to replace Cyr are sophomore Tanna Aljoe, a transfer from San Diego State, and freshman Maggie Speaks, a former standout at Camden (S.C.) High. "They are both very talented, but they are both going to have to mature and get used to playing here," Bunn said. How well NCSU replaces Cyr may dictate how much momentum Bunn's program can continue from the 2012 campaign. Bunn is optimistic. "We have been building our team chemistry," Bunn added. "They enjoyed going to the tournament and having that exposure, so they want to do it again." ■ Newcomer To Watch Freshman setter Maggie Speaks Along with Aljoe, Speaks is contending for a position to replace Megan Cyr as NC State's setter. Speaks was the South Carolina Coaches Association Women's Sport Player of the Year in 2012 after a stellar volleyball career at Camden (S.C.) High. She was a three-time region player of the year and allstate selection. Speaks enrolled early at NCSU and participated in the spring tournaments. Senior middle blocker Brie Merriwether led NC State with 96 blocks last season and was third on the squad with 271 kills. photo courtesy nc state media relations 76  ■  the wolfpacker 76-77.Volleyball Preview.indd 76 8/23/13 1:06 PM

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