The East Carolina University volleyball team is getting ready for its first action of the season, as the team will play in the Purple/Gold scrimmage tomorrow at 6 p.m. in Minges Coliseum.
The Pirates have high expectations following a 22-7 season, their first winning season since 2006 and head coach Julie Torbett is excited to see what her team can do this season and has set a high goal for the Pirates.
“We want to have a better season this year than we had last year,” Torbett said. “The girls have been working hard, and we look forward to playing our best volleyball in November and our goal is to make it to postseason play for the first time in program history.”
The Pirates will try to improve on the success of last season while they integrate their nine newcomers, as the team adds five freshmen and four transfers to the team after losing five seniors from last season. The recruiting class was recognized by PrepVolleyball.com as one of the top in the country, and coach Torbett has faith that the newcomers will be able to contribute immediately.
“We have high expectations for the new players coming in, and we will need a few of them to contribute right away,” Torbett said. “We lost five seniors last season, but I know some of the new players will be able to fill in the gaps.”
One Pirate who will start the season with good news is sophomore Shelby Martin, who was named to the preseason American Athletic Conference team last week. Martin is coming off a spectacular season for the Pirates as a freshman, as she was named the AAC Freshman of the Year.
Martin averaged 9.34 assist per set and had 1,084 total assists, ranking her sixth among setters in the AAC. Shelby also recorded eight double-doubles in her freshman season, all of which came against AAC conference opponents. Martin is grateful for the honor, but sees the award as a compliment to her team more than a personal accomplishment.
“I see this as the team being respected more,” Martin said. “More and more people are seeing that ECU is for real now, and I think that is not because of me, it’s because of what this team can do."
The Pirates are ranked seventh in the AAC in the preseason poll, showing they are on the radar of following AAC coaches. Martin and the rest of the team are looking to keep up the level of play they showed last season and know after success, comes more pressure according to Martin.
“Two years ago we had a 5-15 season,” Martin said. “Now that we came out last year and won 22 games, we have a lot of expectations, but we also have the confidence now to go out and be even better.”
The team opens play tomorrow in the Purple/Gold scrimmage and will then start the season by traveling to Mississippi to play in the Southern Miss Classic starting on Friday.