GREENSBORO-The North Carolina A&T volleyball team fought until the very last point, but its late rally wasn't enough as it fell in four against Wofford on Tuesday night at Moore Gymnasium. The Aggies lost to the Terriers 18-25, 25-19, 25-15, 26-24.
The Aggies, who start conference play against N.C. Central at home Friday night at 7, showed they had the fortitude to be competitive in MEAC play. They made an impressive comeback in set four. After the Terriers took a 15-9 lead, the Aggies fought back to cut the lead to 22-18.
The Aggies got another important kill from freshman Brooke Stamnes to pull within three, and a Wofford ball handling error made it a two-point set. Moments later, junior Jeana Daniels collected a kill to pull A&T within one at 22-21. The crowd volume started to increase, as Stamnes eventually tied the set at 23 on a kill. A kill from sophomore Aprill McRae gave the Aggies the lead at 24-23, as Aleena McDaniel served for the set win and the opportunity to tie the match at 2.
The Aggies had several kill opportunities before Wofford's Rachel Woodlee tied the match at 24. She then recorded her 18th kill of the match and helped the Terriers take a 25-24 advantage. McRae went to tip the ball in for a kill, but the ball fell back on her side of the net for attack error that gave Wofford the 26-24 victory.
Freshman outside hitters Stamnes and McDaniel led the team offensively with 12 and 11 kills respectively. Senior Andrea Evans had four block assists, and the Aggies hit .157 on the night.
"I'm proud of our girls, they way they fought hard in the fourth. We had our opportunities to win the fourth set, and went 0-for-2 on set point and lost the match," said A&T head coach Hal Clifton. "They played pretty well most of the match."
That stellar play included the first set. A&T took a 5-1 lead before Wofford snapped the run. Later, a pair of service aces from junior Chelsea Fox allowed the Aggies to keep adding to their cushion as they took a 7-point lead. The Terriers fought back and pulled within one at 17-16 on a kill by Alex Bidgood. But the Aggies took control of the set again. A kill by McDaniel made it a 24-18 set. The Aggies won their second set in Moore Gym on a Wofford attack error.
"We hit tremendously in the first set and we blocked tremendously in the first set and then we didn't block well after that," Clifton said. "Not as well as we should have. We only had one block in each of the last set, which is unacceptable. They blocked us nine times in the last three sets. That was the big difference at that point."
A&T, who has not been able to take a commanding 2-0 lead all season, trailed by as many as seven in the second set and never were a threat to the Terries in the third.
"We got too lethargic in the second set, and that gave them the confidence to come back and compete, and they did," said Clifton. "We weren't able to slow them down until late in the fourth set. We didn't get the match-ups we wanted in the second and third set, and they exploited that."
When N.C. Central comes to Moore Gymnasium, it will be a crucial match as the Aggies are looking to qualify for the MEAC Tournament for the first time in five years.
"We're hoping to see a big crowd on Friday when Central rolls in and use that to our advantage and feed off the crowd's energy. I think we'll be ready," Clifton said.