ORANGEBURG, S.C. - The North Carolina A&T volleyball team has mastered competitiveness. The Aggies have lost in three sets only once in conference play this season as compared to six times in 2011. Now, the next step for head coach Hal Clifton and his Aggies is to put a together a complete match.
Once again, the Aggies played well in spots on Friday, but they could not complete the task as S.C. State defeated the Aggies 3-1 (25-21, 25-14, 19-25, 25-20) at Dukes Gymnasium. The Aggies had two players reach double figures in kills, but their offense suffered from not being able to attack from the net. As a result, the Aggies put together a .071 hitting percentage. Despite the low hitting percentage, the Aggies had an excellent opportunity to win additional sets.
"We had moments of good play, but we have yet to put it all together," said Clifton. "We lost track of key hitters, and we struggled to keep the pressure on them in order to make mini runs."
After losing the first two sets, the Aggies trailed 12-10 in the third. A&T then hit one of those modes Clifton wishes it could have for the majority of matches. The Aggies ran off five straight points, highlighted by a kill from freshman Te'Borah Hawkins-Hollingsworth. That lead increased to 22-14 on Jeana Daniels kill. Two attack errors and a ball handling error helped the Bulldogs post four straight points to pull to within four.
Block assists from junior Aprill McRae and senior Andrea Evans stopped S.C. State's resurgence. An Evans kill and an attack error by the Bulldogs gave A&T the set. A&T used its third-set victory to take an 8-5 lead in the fourth.
Taylor Bailey helped the Bulldogs rally to take a 17-16 lead. An attack error by Brooke Stamnes gave S.C. State a 22-18 lead. After an Aggies timeout, Stamnes brought the Aggies to within three. But A&T was not able to get any closer as Desire Waller slammed down her 21st kill to end the match.
"We struggled tonight trying to find our rhythm in serve receive and digging to target," said Clifton. "We put a lot of pressure on our pin hitters to attack far from the net."
Hawkins-Hollingsworth finished with a season-high 10 kills on a season-best .231 hitting percentage. Stamnes recorded her second straight double-double and her fourth of the season with 10 kills and 10 digs. The Aggies (0-24, 0-4 MEAC) will try to pick up win No. 1 as they travel to Savannah, Ga., to play Savannah State Sunday at 1 p.m.