GREENSBORO-The North Carolina A&T volleyball team made its Moore Gymnasium debut on Sunday afternoon and put up a strong fight before losing to High Point University 23-25, 25-21, 25-7, 25-21 in the first of a six-match homestand.
The Aggies (0-18) christened their new home with a set victory to open the match.
"Sometimes in nights like tonight, we make great swings and they get a better touch. We don't get a kill, they get a dig. That's very frustrating. We give it a great effort but we come up empty-handed. We run the right thing and we made the right decisions, we just didn't get the right result," said A&T head coach Hal Clifton.
Freshman Aleena McDaniel led the team with nine kills, and sophomore Aprill McRae posted a .235 hitting percentage. Junior Jeana Daniels also ended the match with five blocks. The Aggies hung tough in the second and fourth sets after winning the first, but weren't able to overcome an early deficit in each set to pick up the win.
There were nine ties in the first set. An attack error by HPU gave the Aggies a 20-19 lead. The Aggies took control of the match with a 4-0 run capped by an ace by Murphye Williams. The Panthers answered with three straight points of their own as a Courtney Johnk's ace tied the set at 23. An attack error by HPU's Chelsea Davis, and a block assists from senior Andrea Evans and McRae gave A&T the set.
"I thought we came out and we played very well. We played them point for point. Nine tie scores (in the first set) were pretty impressive. We hung with them and we pulled the set out on some really good plays," Clifton said.
The Aggies trailed 12-5 early in the second set, but a kill by Daniels pulled the Aggies to within four at 24-20. Williams followed with an ace to pull the Aggies closer. But a service error by Williams gave the Panthers the set.
"We played a very good second set. We gave them a little bit too much of a lead. In the fourth, again, we played a pretty good fourth set. We've got to quit playing from behind. We've got to try to get out in front of some teams and see if we can play in the lead," Clifton said.
In the fourth set, the Panthers got ahead 12-7, but the Aggies clawed back to pull within one at 16-15 on an ace by Stamnes. Consecutive kills and an ace by McDaniel brought the Aggies within two at 22-20. Johnk's ace and an Aggies attack error gave HPU match and set point. Johnk's service error slowed down the Panthers momentum for a moment, but Caity Farus' kill put away A&T.
"We've got to get better at some things and we've identified them today. We'll get back in the gym tomorrow and try to do those better," said Clifton.
The Aggies will host the Wofford Terriers on Tuesday at 7 p.m., in Moore Gymnasium before opening conference play against N.C. Central at home on Friday at 7 p.m.
"I'm looking forward to us packing this gym on Friday night when Central rolls into town. If we get 1,200 people in this gym, it's going to be crazy. They're going to get a great product. We're very excited about this upcoming match," Clifton said.