BUIES CREEK - Despite playing one of their top offensive matches, the North Carolina A&T volleyball team lost in five to Campbell 23-25, 26-24, 25-18, 18-25, 15-9 at the Gore Arena at Pope Convocation Center.
A&T (0-17) recorded season highs in kills (58), service aces (19) and assists (55). It was the second time that the Aggies have played a five-set match this season, after losing in five to Bryant on Sept. 1.
"Offensively, I think we made great strides today. I was pleased with our performance at the net," said A&T head coach Hal Clifton. "Our passers got a little more settled in. We were able to be a lot more consistent, which made it better for our attackers. We got one-on-one situations we were able to capitalize on."
Middle hitter Aprill McRae finished the match with 14 kills, while middle hitter Jeana Daniels had 13 and freshman Aleena McDaniel posted 10. The Aggies also had three players post double-doubles in the contest, as Chelsea Fox had 11 digs and 26 assists, Ali Way had 14 digs and 19 assists and McDaniel had 10 kills and 11 digs.
"We tried a new lineup tonight and we were able to distribute the ball evenly, which is nice. I feel like one of the strengths of this team is that we have different people that can attack the ball and terminate the ball," Clifton said. "We don't have to ride one person too much. We're pretty well balanced, and that's one of the things we were shooting for with this lineup-how can we attack different positions on the court and keep the defense on their heels?"
In set four, the Aggies used the play of Evans, Daniels and McRae to dominate. The three combined for 10 kills and no attack errors on 11 total attempts. A kill by Daniels gave the Aggies the 22-11 lead. The Camels (7-11) went on a 4-0 run to pressure the Aggies, but a kill by Stamnes ended the threat and tied the match at 2.
"We had a lot more confidence in our abilities today. Set three kind of ran away, but we knew we could compete with them because we did in the first two sets," Clifton said. "We kind of got on a roll in the fourth set. We got some match-ups that we liked in the fourth set, which worked for us."
In the decisive set, the Aggies used a McDaniel kill and two McDaniel aces to take a 3-0 lead. Campbell's Jessica Groen's second kill during a 9-2 run gave the Camels a 9-5 lead. Kills by Daniels and Fox along with an ace by Maris Kellar put the Aggies back to within one. But Campbell's Sam Zuber pulled the Camels through by scoring three of their final six points.
"Unfortunately they rotated a little bit in the fifth set and we didn't get quite the match-ups that we wanted or that we hoped for in that set. Overall the girls played really well today. I was happy with what they did," Clifton said.
The Aggies will host High Point at 2 p.m. on Sunday, making their Moore Gymnasium debut. The Aggies will host Wofford on Tuesday at 7 p.m., and open up MEAC competition against archrival N.C. Central on Friday at 7 p.m.
"Tomorrow, we've got to be ready. High Point's got some big wins already this season. We're going to have to play very well, and we're going to have to do the same things that we did today against them tomorrow," Clifton said. "Hopefully we can get a little bit better result. The process is working. The girls are sticking by it. We're going to have to be on our toes tomorrow and be ready to play."
The Aggies got to a great start Saturday. An attack error by Campbell gave the Aggies a 17-16 lead. A McRae ace forced the Camels to call timeout after A&T took a 22-19 lead. The Camels would get to within one, 24-23, on a Katelyn Layden kill. But Evans put the set away with a kill.
Notes: The Aggies haven't played in two five-set matches in a season since 2008...The last time the Aggies had three players with 10 or more kills in a match was in their victory against Savannah State in Corbett Sports Center on Oct. 16, 2011.