Northern No. 2 Maryland Eastern Shore (10-15) vs. Southern No. 3 North Carolina A&T (12-11)
Date and Time: Friday, Nov. 16; 11 a.m.
Facility: Burr Gymnasium, Washington, D.C.
@ncat_volleyball: North Carolina A&T returns to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship Tournament for the sixth straight season. The Aggies, however, will be looking for their first tournament win since beating Bethune-Cookman 3-1 on Nov. 17, 2006. The Aggies have a difficult task ahead if they want to break their eight-match losing streak, they will have to do it against a solid Maryland Eastern Shore team. This will be the first time the two teams have met this season. But the Aggies did defeat the Hawks 3-2 last season. MDES has one of the best hitting percentages in the conference as they score on 20.4 percent of their attacks. But the Aggies have had a stingy back row all season and lead the conference in opponent hitting percentage as only 15.3 percent of opponent attacks hit the floor. The Aggies could be motivated by the fact the versatile and talented Edie Brewer did not appear on any all-conference teams. Brewer comes into the tournament with a .206 hitting percentage and averages 1.62 kills, 7.73 assists, 2.03 digs, 0.28 service aces and 0.38 blocks per set.
THE MDES HAWKS: The Hawks come into the tournament with three All-MEAC players. Outside hitter Lucia Babic earned first-team honors for the Hawks after being named the conference’s preseason player of the year coming into the 2108 season. Babic averages 3.74 kills per set and she is accurate in her attacking with a .259 hitting percentage. Setter Ivan Blazevic and outside hitter Rachel Kayongo were second-team performers. Blazevic averages 8.18 assists per set to go along with 0.42 service aces and 1.58 digs per set. Kayongo is second on the team to Babic in kills per set (2.72) and she is averaging 1.69 digs per set. The Hawks come to the nation’s capital winners of four out of their last five. Their only loss in that span was a 3-2 defeat to Coppin State.
Stepping up: Freshman Andrea Laboy-Rivera recently earned All-Rookie honors from the MEAC. The Aggies come into the tournament winners of three straight. In those three matches, Rivera is averaging 4.20 digs and 0.90 service aces per set.
News & Notes
- Sophomore Courteney Pitt was named first-team All-MEAC this week. She is the third first-team performer in the eight-year Hal Clifton era joining Ashley Johnson and Samara Brown. It was Pitt’s second postseason honor after she was named to the MEAC All-Rookie team in 2017. Pitt comes into the tournament leading the MEAC in kills per set (4.09).
- N.C. A&T heads into the tournament with an offensive attack that’s been pretty good this season. The Aggies are sixth in the nation in service aces per set (1.80). N.C. A&T is also third in the conference in assists and kills.
- The last time the Aggies played MDES in the MEAC tournament was in 2016. The Hawks swept the Aggies in Princess Anne, Md. Leila Haynesworth is the only player on the Aggies roster who played in the match. MDES’s Lucia Babic had 12 kills, 11 digs and a .550 hitting percentage while setter Ivana Blazevic finished with 33 assists.
- A win on Friday against Maryland Eastern Shore will guarantee the Aggies their first winning season in 12 years. The Aggies went 17-14 in 2006 a year after they advanced to the championship final of the MEAC tournament in 2005. A win would put the Aggies into Saturday’s 5 p.m. semifinal match against the winner of Florida A&M and Morgan State.