Charlotte, N.C. (August 31, 2002) -- East Tennessee State finished its opening weekend of volleyball at the Spring Hill Suites Invitational in Charlotte, N.C. Unfortunately, the Buccaneers dropped both of their Saturday matches to fall to 0-3 on the season. Northwestern (2-0) and Southern Methodist (1-2) each handed the Lady Bucs a pair of 3-0 losses at Halton Arena.
ETSU still showed signs of growing pains as the relatively young Bucs fell to the Wildcats in three games, 30-19, 30-18 and 30-19. The matched marked the first time that the Buccaneers faced a Big Ten opponent since 1984 and it was only the second time ETSU did battle with the conference in school history. East Tennessee State, overmatched by the sheer size of Northwestern, didn't have an individual player record double figure numbers in kills nor digs, but junior Lissa Allen (Palm Bay, Fla.) caught the eye of head coach Deane Webb, providing the team with some much-needed motivation.
"Lissa did an excellent job of being aggressive," Webb said of the 6'0" middle hitter. "I was pleased with the production from our entire middle, and it was a great opportunity to play against a team from the Big Ten. I'm sure our players learned a lot from playing Northwestern."
SMU provided quite a different challenge for the Bucs. Although the Mustangs were not as physical as Northwestern, Webb noted the overall athleticism of Southern Methodist posed some problems in the 30-16, 30-20 and 30-23 losses.
"We were overmatched by SMU at many positions," said Webb. "We also didn't pass well enough to put us in position to win."
Overall, Webb said he was pleased with the energy from his freshmen. Katie Ralph (Port Orchard, Wash.) and Nicole Ryan (Etiwanda, Calif.) completed their first weekend of collegiate volleyball as the team's statistical leaders in numerous categories. Ralph earned 21 kills in 10 games behind Ryan's team leading 26 kills. Ralph leads the Lady Bucs in blocks (6) and digs (26), while freshmen setter Renee Vesey (Paw Paw, Mich.) tallied 64 assists in the team's three matches.
East Tennessee State returns to action on Tuesday, Sept. 3, when the Bucs host Lincoln Memorial in the home opener at Brooks Gym. The match is set to begin at 6 p.m. To reserve tickets for the event contact the athletics ticket office at (423) 439-5371.