A&T Downs NCCU 3-1 in MEAC Opener
DURHAM – Four players posted double-figures in kills to help the North Carolina A&T volleyball team notch a 3-1 (26-24, 31-29, 19-25, 25-8) win over N.C. Central, Friday evening at McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium.
The Aggies (2-15 overall, 1-0 MEAC) used a complete team effort to secure the win which marked the first time they defeated NCCU (0-17, 0-1) since Oct. 7, 2008, ending a 10-match losing streak to their archrivals.
It also marks the first time that A&T started conference play 1-0 since Sept. 25, 2007.
“We came here to rebuild this program,” head coach Hal Clifton said. “There’s going to be a lot of firsts. We’re excited about that but we’re not focused on that. We’re focused on getting to Baltimore for the MEAC tournament. We want to be successful in the conference. We played a grueling preseason, but we knew that it would prepare us for conference matches.”
Brooke Stamnes led all players with 16 kills. She also added a team-high 17 digs to record her third double-double of the season and 10th of her career. Aleena McDaniel tallied 13 kills and 16 digs to notch her third double-double of the season.
Chelsea Fox also finished with a season and game-high 29 assists. The Aggies also recorded a season-high .226 hitting percentage.
In the first set the Eagles took control but the Aggies used a 4-0 rally to take its first lead of the game 12-9. NCCU nipped at A&T’s advantage and used three consecutive A&T errors to regain the lead 21-18. The teams exchanged points but a kill from Stamnes tied the game at 24. The Aggies used kill from McDaniel and capitalized on an Eagle error to win the set.
In true rivalry spirit, the teams kept the excitement going into the second game. However this time it was A&T who dominated the beginning of the set and took a 9-3 lead. The Eagles continued to string points together and secured an 11-4 run to take a 14-13 edge over the Aggies. NCCU and A&T continued to battle it out and went the distance. Stamnes gave the Aggies the 26-25 edge but NCCU answered with a kill to tie the game at 26. A&T regained the lead, 29-28 and was able to score two straight points courtesy of Hawkins-Hollingsworth and Fox to steal the set.
NCCU won the third set and ended the game on an 8-3 run. It marked the second time this season that the Eagles have won a set.
Despite dropping the third set, A&T continued to play hard and leaped to a 15-5 advantage which forced the Eagles to take a timeout. The Eagles were unable to respond to the 10-3 run the Aggies opened up to win the match.
“I’m so proud of the girls,” Clifton said. “They stayed in the game plan and competed fiercely. This is a great way to open the MEAC schedule in front a loud and excited crowd.”
A&T will continue its conference schedule on Friday, Oct. 4 when it visits Bethune-Cookman for a match beginning at 7 p.m. The Aggies will close out the weekend on Sunday, Oct. 6 against Florida A&M at 1 p.m.