EAST GREENSBORO (September 11, 2018) – North Carolina A&T looked like a much sharper volleyball team than they did over the weekend at the Spartan-Aggie Invitational, but they could not overcome the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs late in sets as GWU came away with a 3-1 win over the Aggies (25-22, 25-23, 22-25, 25-18) at Moore Gymnasium Tuesday night.
Sophomore Courteney Pitt had a career night. She finished with a career-high 18 kills with five attack errors on 44 attempts to finish with a team-high .295 hitting percentage. Sophomore Edie Brewer, who had a triple-double last season against GWU, finished 28 assists, eight digs, four kills and two block assists.
Freshman Andrea Laboy-Rivera had her third match of 20 or more digs with 22 and freshman middle hitter Lily Walton had three solo blocks and three block assists. Junior Leila Haynesworth added eight kills.
“I felt like we played one of our better matches tonight,” said N.C. A&T coach Hal Clifton. “We did not execute properly at some critical points and that made the difference.”
It was Haynesworth who ignited the Aggies in the first set with four kills against only one attack error in seven attempts. Despite her efforts, the Aggies found themselves trailing 22-19. Macenzie Richards kept the Aggies alive with her first kill of the set. Brewer and Pitt formed a wall to post block assists and the Aggies tied the match at 22 on a Walton kill.
But that is where the good times ended in the first as Hannah Lancaster ended the Aggies run with a kill before an Aggies attack error and a kill from Madi Riggs gave the Bulldogs Set 1.
Set 2 saw the score between the Aggies (3-6) and the Bulldogs (4-6) tied 12 times. The last time the teams tied came on block assists from Brewer and Walton to knot the set at 21 apiece. The Aggies momentum halted with a service error that helped GWU reclaim the lead. GWU stretched their lead to three on back-to-back kills.
N.C. A&T kept fighting as back-to-back GWU errors – one on a serve and the other on an attack – got the Aggies to within one at 24-23. But the set ended on a kill from GWU’s Maria Emmick.
“I felt like we competed, but we failed to win the serving game,” said Clifton. “We made progress tonight, but we still have some learning to do. We have to make the right decision at the right time and then execute.”
The Aggies finally got over the hump in the third by staging a comeback. The Aggies trailed 17-14 but a kill from junior Christa Wilson tied the set at 19. Pitt, who was superb in the set with five kills and no attack errors on 11 attempts, gave the Aggies the lead at 22-21 on a kill. Block assists from the Bulldogs tied the match at 22 before a service error helped the Aggies reclaim the lead. Pitt struck again with a service ace to give the Aggies a 24-22 while Walton’s solo block gave the Aggies the set.
But the fourth set did not trend like the first three. GWU posted a .375 hitting percentage and did not make an attack error. The Aggies made 12 as GWU avenged their loss to the Aggies from last season. Kylee Garrison led the Bulldogs with 14 kills and 14 digs.
“We really are a young team, but at the end of the day you have to step up and make plays,” said Clifton.
Due to threats of inclement weather from Hurricane Florence, the Aggies will not travel to compete Spartanburg, S.C., to compete in the Wofford Invitational. The Aggies were scheduled to play Wofford, GWU and Middle Tennessee over Friday and Saturday. N.C. A&T’s next scheduled match will be in the MEAC North-South Challenge where the Aggies will play Norfolk State 4 p.m., Friday, Sept. 21 in Baltimore.