GREENSBORO-The North Carolina A&T volleyball team put up a tough fight against Radford, but fell to the Highlanders in three sets (25-23, 25-19. 25-22) after losing leads in the first and third sets on Tuesday night at Moore Gymnasium.
"I was pleased with our effort," said A&T head coach Hal Clifton. "It's a disappointing loss in three because we were up in two of the sets. We let one bad play snowball into another bad play into another bad play and the next thing you know we give up three short points. We've got to learn that we've got to be smarter than that. Once we make one bad play we've got to make a little better play the next time. That's what killed us when we were up."
The third set illustrated Clifton's point. A kill from freshman TeBorah Hawkins-Hollingsworth made it 12-8 in favor of the Aggies. The lead grew to 20-14 on a Raford attack error. A 4-0 Highlander run brought them within two, but the Aggies still had the advantage as an Aleena McDaniel kill gave A&T a 22-19 lead. But A&T would not score again in the match. The Highlanders used a 6-0 run aided by four A&T attack errors ended the match.
"We were up 22-20 and the next thing you know we're down 23-22. We've lost all momentum and we got tight and we end up losing 25-22," Clifton said. "In that aspect, I'm happy that we were at least competing for the set, but I'm not happy with the way we're finishing. We've still got to find ways that we can get kills."
A&T also squandered a pair of leads in the first set. After tying the game at 10-10, the Aggies went on a 5-1 run to gain a nice cushion, which they kept until late in the set. A kill from senior Andrea Evans made it 20-16. The Highlanders started to chip into the A&T lead. Radford got a kill from Emma Deininger to make it 22-21. A kill from freshman Brooke Stamnes put A&T ahead by two, but the Highlanders won the next four points on a trio of A&T errors and a kill from Jesse Miedema to win the set.
"It was just poor game management on our part that we didn't do what we were supposed to do," Clifton said.
Freshman outside hitter Stamnes led the team with 15 kills, and posted 10 digs for her third double-double of the season. She also hit a team-best .371, which set a new personal best. Senior middle hitter Evans had 10 kills and two blocks, and hit .300 for the Aggies as well. The Aggies hit over .200 for the fourth time this season.
"I thought we played a relatively good match compared to our last outing. We hit .204 which was really solid. We blocked a lot of balls but we didn't get a lot of terminating blocks. We touched a lot of balls at the net but we just didn't get a lot of blocks which I think hurt us a little bit," said Clifton, adding that the team also needs to spread the ball around so more people can be a threat offensively.
"We've got to suit up and get ready for South Carolina State and Savannah State this weekend and try and take two road wins which is a very difficult thing to do. I think we're prepared to do it. We've just got to keep following the game plan and going after it," Clifton said.