EAST GREENSBORO – After being down 2-0, North Carolina A&T volleyball team rallied to beat their chief rival N.C. Central 3-2 (27-29,22-25,25-16,25-20,17-15) win against North Carolina Central Tuesday night at an energetic Moore Gymnasium.
“What an exciting match tonight and to be able to come out on top is a testament to the ladies’ effort, energy and competitive spirit,” head coach Hal Clifton said. “We could have easily packed it in after dropping the first two sets, but our ladies held it together and worked through the adversity.
“It was inspiring to see how much energy and information our bench was able to provide tonight. Christa did an outstanding job coming off the bench and taking some big swings. She settled down our ball control.”
Junior outside hitter Courteney Pitt led the team with a match-high 26 kills and added three digs. Junior setter Edie Brewer nearly recorded a triple-double with 17 kills, 32 assists and nine digs and added a career-high seven blocks to go along with a .350 hitting percentage.
Sophomore libero Andrea Laboy-Rivera led the team with a match-high 30 digs and added seven assists while freshman setter Addy Warfield nearly recorded a double-double with 25 assists and nine digs. The 30 digs by Laboy-Rivera gives her 661 for her career to move her to No. 8 all-time in school history.
Sophomore right side hitter Fatimah Shabazz added 10 kills and sophomore middle hitter Shaylynn Hall led the team with eight blocks. Wilson added six kills and seven digs and junior defensive specialist Milanna Morgan added 12 digs.
The final stanza saw the Eagles make a rally of their own. The teams switched sides of the court with the Aggies leading 8-4 before the Eagles staged a comeback to take a 12-11 lead in a set scheduled to end once one team reaches 15 points.
NCCU’s McKayla Young put the Eagles on the verge of winning with a kill that gave the Eagles a 14-13 lead. An Eagles service error kept the Aggies in the match and tied the set at 14 which meant the winner would have to win by two. A Brewer kill tied the set at 15 and a Pitt kill gave the Aggies a one-point lead at 16-15. Freshman middle hitter Mallory Porcher ended the match and the set with a soft-touch kill over the net to give the Aggies the two-point lead it needed.
The Aggies improved to 4-12 overall and 2-0 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). The Eagles dropped to 2-13 overall and 1-1 in the MEAC.
The Eagles looked well on their way to a conference win early, however. N.C. A&T took a one-point lead, 25-24 to reach set point in the first set. However, the Eagles scored a point to tie the match at 25. The Aggies recaptured the lead after a Brewer kill to give N.C. A&T the set point again. But NCCU scored another point to tie the set at 26.
A Richards kill gave the Aggies the set point. An Aggies service error and attack error reversed their fortunes as NCCU took a 28-27 lead. The set ended on an Arianda Faulkner ace as the Eagles took a 1-0 match lead.
The Aggies were unsuccessful in tying the match at 1 despite taking a 20-18 lead. But the Eagles scored the next four points to take control of the set at 22-20. The Eagles never surrendered the lead again as Ammaarah Williams ended the second set on a kill to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.
N.C. A&T refused to quit, however. N.C. A&T dominated the third set. A Wilson kill sparked a 6-0 Aggies run that put them ahead 22-14. The run included two Wilson kills and a Shabazz kill. After an NCCU point cut the lead to seven points, 22-15, the Aggies benefited from an NCCU service error and a Pitt kill to reach set point at 24-15. Another NCCU service error cut the Eagles match lead to 2-1.
The Aggies still needed to win the fourth set to force the fifth set and they did just that. In the fourth set, NCCU went on a 3-0 run tie the set at 16. The Aggies answered with four straight points of their own. The Aggies spurt was ignited by block assists from Porcher and Wilson. The run ended with a Pitt kill that gave the Aggies a 20-16 lead.
N.C. A&T stayed in control from there. Another Pitt kill put the Aggies ahead 24-18 before NCCU scored the next two points. The Aggies tied the set at 2 when a block assists from Hall and Brewer ended set No. 4 with the Aggies victorious.
The Eagles were led by Christine Alcox with 12 kills.
The Aggies start a four-game road swing with two in Baltimore, Md., this weekend. N.C. A&T faces Coppin State (6-10, 2-0 MEAC) Friday at 7 p.m. and Morgan State (7-8, 1-1 MEAC) Sunday at 1 p.m.