PRINCESS ANNE, Md. (November 17, 2017) – Senior Samara Brown ended her North Carolina A&T Aggies career with 14 kills, five digs and two blocks against two-time defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference volleyball champion Howard University.
The Bison eliminated the Aggies from the 2017 MEAC Volleyball Championship Tournament, advancing to the semifinal round with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-19) win Friday at the Hytche Center on the campus of Maryland Eastern Shore University.
“We played a heck of a match tonight against a very talented Howard team,” said N.C. A&T coach Hal Clifton. “We hit .215 for the match and hit over .200 in every set. We held them to .278 but had two small breakdowns that made the difference. It just wasn’t our day.”
The Aggies (14-14) were the No. 3 seed in the MEAC Southern Division and went against Howard (14-15), the No. 2 seed in the norther division. In all three sets, the Aggies notched double-digit kills. N.C. A&T out blocked the Bison 9-4, nailed three aces to their two and committed 16 attack errors to 15 by HU.
The duo of Brown and freshman Edie Brewer combined for eight kills in the opening set, but Howard opened the set on a 6-2 run forcing the Aggies to fight from behind. Two kills from Brewer and a service ace by Brown put N.C. A&T back in the mix. Senior Alyssa Pitt’s kill tied the set at 9, but attack errors shifted the momentum back to the Bison. Howard went on a 5-1 run to extend their lead to 17-13. Things remained close until Howard’s Khalila Donaldson connected on two kills breaking out to a 23-18 advantage, a deficit the Aggies could not overcome.
N.C. A&T put together three consecutive kills by Alyssa Pitt and a pair from Brown in the second set to take a 14-9 advantage. Howard exploded for eight straight points fueled by three Aggie errors that put the Bison in front 17-14. Courteney Pitt shined with three kills in the next four points for the Aggies. Facing match-point, an Alyssa Pitt kill and a service ace by Wilson cut the Bison’s lead to two, 24-22. But then an attack error by the Aggies gave Howard a 2-0 match lead.
The 0-2 deficit put the Aggies season in survival mode as an Alyssa Pitt kill, followed by three straight attack errors gave N.C. A&T a 13-11 lead in the third. Howard came back with a pair of kills to tie it at 13 and then used a 9-2 run to spring ahead 21-16. Courteney Pitt ended the Bison run with her 11th kill of the match and then Brown’s kill cut the HU advantage to 22-18. Howard used nine consecutive kills to pull away from the Aggies and end their season.
The 2017 Aggies volleyball team posted the most regular season wins (14) since the 2006 season. Freshmen duo Courteney Pitt and Edie Brewer played well in their first postseason appearance for the Aggies. Pitt had 11 kills, a service ace and a block while Brewer paced the offense with 23 assists, had five kills hitting .400 and added a pair of blocks. Senior Jasmine Lindor led the defense with five blocks and sophomore Christa Wilson tied a season-high of 17 digs.
The duo of Brewer and Pitt was perhaps the best freshman duo in the conference with both players making the conference’s All-Rookie team. Add to that the Aggies had a talented freshman sitting out and sophomore Christa Wilson came on late to be an effective back row player for the Aggies. The Aggies do lose three talented players in Brown, Lindor and Alyssa Pitt, but the 14-win season has been the program on solid footing.
“We made great strides as a program this season. We will miss our seniors. They have done so much to grow our program,” said Clifton. “But I tell you the underclassmen accomplished a lot this year and are going to be fun to watch as they grow. We had seven new players this year, and we grew a lot. This team has a bright future.”