Charlotte, N.C. (August 30, 2002) - Head coach Deane Webb knew that in order for his East Tennessee State volleyball team to get better, the Buccaneers would have to face quality opponents if they wanted to compete at the next level. That is why the Buccaneers decided to open their 2002 season at the Spring Hill Suites Invitational hosted by UNC Charlotte.
Charlotte (1-0) used its home court to hand the Bucs (0-1) their first loss of the season, 3-1, at the Halton Arena on Friday night. ETSU got off to a slow start, dropping the first game 30-17, but rebounded in game two by defeating the 49ers 30-25. Charlotte clinched the match by winning the next two games 30-20 and 30-27.
"We came here to improve," Webb stated during a telephone interview from the team's hotel on Friday night. "Charlotte is a very good team and we need to play against this type of competition to get to where we need to be."
Freshman Katie Ralph (Port Orchard, Wash.) showed the poise of an upperclassman, leading the team in digs (14) and blocks (3).
"Katie really stepped up tonight," Webb said. "It seemed like the nerves of playing in her first collegiate match didn't bother her at all."
Saturday's competition doesn't get any easier for ETSU. The team opens play at 11 a.m. versus Northwestern of the traditionally strong Big Ten Conference. The Bucs will then take on Southern Methodist around 5 p.m.