DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.-The haunting memory from the 2012 North Carolina A&T volleyball season will be the fifth set. For the sixth time in 2012, the improving Aggies program went five sets with an opponent. And for the sixth time, they came up short. This time Bethune-Cookman defeated the Aggies 25-20, 16-25, 25-20, 21-25, 15-5 Sunday afternoon at Moore Gymnasium. It was the second five-set match the Aggies and Wildcats engaged in this season.
The Aggies had just two kills in the fifth frame, and the Wildcats were able to take advantage of A&T errors to win the match. The Wildcats tallied nine straight points to take a 13-2 lead. The Aggies were unable to stop the BCU offense in the end.
"The fifth set was not good. We played well enough to win, but made some unforced errors at critical points along the way--signs of a young team," said A&T head coach Hal Clifton.
The Aggies were led by freshman Brooke Stamnes who tallied her seventh double-double of the year with 16 kills and a season-best 22 digs. Freshman Aleena McDaniel also recorded 16 kills in the contest, to match her season best. Freshman Ashley Johnson posted 15 digs in the set to move to 428 on the year, which are the fifth most digs in a single season in program history.
"I'm proud of the way our team competed today. We have grown a lot this year. But we have a tremendous amount of learning still left to do," Clifton said.
The Aggies took a 2-1 match lead behind McDaniel who posted six kills in both the second and third sets. In the second game, the Aggies went on a 7-0 run to take a commanding lead. The Wildcats didn't get closer than five points in the entire set. The Wildcats (5-25, 5-4) put up more of a fight in the third set, tying the game at 18 on a block by Destiny Hudson and Jordan Murray. But kills from senior Andrea Evans and McDaniel gave A&T back the lead. The Wildcats pulled within one at 21-20 on a McDaniel attack error, but a kill by McDaniel and three BCU attack errors gave A&T their 25th set win.
But in the fourth set, the Aggies hit only .129 and made seven errors, while the Wildcats hit .353. A&T tied the set at 19 on an attack error by Krysta Gardner. A kill from Evans brought A&T within one at 21-20, but the Wildcats collected three consecutive points to pull ahead. A kill from Aria Cormier tied up the match at two set victories apiece and to send the match into a decisive fifth frame.
The Aggies(1-29, 1-7) will return home for the final two matches of the regular season, and will look to improve upon their win total from last fall. A&T will host Savannah State on Friday, Nov. 9 at 6 p.m., and will take on S.C. State on Sunday, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m.