DURHAM – North Carolina A&T volleyball team won a regular-season Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) title for the first time since 1998. The Aggies won the MEAC Southern Division with a 3-1 win over N.C. Central (27-25, 25-15, 17-25, 25-17) Friday night at McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium.
The Aggies are 12-13 overall and 10-1 in the MEAC.
"It was a very exciting night for the Aggies," said N.C. A&T coach Hal Clifton. "We were able to claim the Southern Division tonight in what I thought was a solid effort by our team."
Both Aggie setters recorded double-doubles as junior Edie Brewer led the team with 25 assists and 10 digs and freshman Addy Warfield recorded 19 assists and 15 digs. Brewer also added six kills, four blocks and two service aces.
Sophomore right side hitter Fatimah Shabazz recorded a match-high 15 kills and added two blocks and a .361 hitting percentage. Sophomore libero Andrea Laboy-Rivera recorded a match-high 16 digs to give her 398 this season.
Junior outside hitter Courteney Pitt added 10 kills and six digs. Senior middle hitter Makaylah Elliott added eight kills, seven blocks and four digs with a .375 hitting percentage and senior outside hitter Christa Wilson had nine digs.
"Fatimah had a great night offensively, pounding 15 kills from both pins," said Clifton. "We were also to get our middles involved which balanced our offense. We passed really well out of serve-receive and that allowed us to have a balanced attack."
NCCU (6-22, 5-6 MEAC) took an early 7-2 lead in the opening set. But with Warfield serving, the Aggies scored the next five points thanks in part to kills from Mallory Porcher and Pitt to tie the set at eight.
After the Eagles took a 17-16, the Aggies ripped off four straight points that included a block assist from Wilson and Elliott to give the Aggies a 20-17 lead. NCCU fought back and earned set point at 24-23 after a Christine Alcox kill.
Facing set point, the Aggies tied the set after an Eagles service error and took a one-point lead, 25-24, after a kill from Pitt. NCCU tied the score at 25 with a kill, but back-to-back errors gave N.C. A&T the set. Pitt and Elliott had four kills apiece in the first set.
"Grabbing the first set made a big difference with momentum and confidence," said Clifton.
With Laboy-Rivera serving in the second set, N.C. A&T scored five straight points to take a 12-8 lead. The run included a Brewer kill and a Laboy-Rivera service ace forcing an Eagle timeout.
The timeout did not help much. The Aggies went on a 6-1 that included two Elliott kills to take an 18-9 lead. The Eagles never got any closer than six the rest as Porcher ended the set with a kill. Wilson led the Aggies with six digs in the second.
NCCU kept the match going in the third thanks in part to getting out to a 17-7 lead. An Eagles attack error and a Shabazz kill got the Aggies to within eight. The closest the Aggies were able to get was seven at 24-17 on a Macenzie Richards kill. NCCU’s Jasmine Sanders ended the set, however, with a kill to cut the Aggies match lead to 2-1.
N.C. A&T took care of business in the fourth, however. They jumped on the Eagles with a 13-5 lead and extended the lead after scoring the next four points for as a solo block from Brewer and a block assist from Elliott and Brewer helped the Aggies to a commanding 17-5 lead.
The Eagles did cut the lead to six, 23-17, on a service from Celene Morris. But an Eagle service error and an Elliot kill gave the Aggies the points they needed to clinch the division.
"I'm really proud of the ladies and how they responded in the fourth set," said Clifton. "We were very focused and we were able to go from there."
The Eagles were led by Sanders and Alcox with 13 kills each.
The Aggies are back in action with the final road trip of the regular season at S.C. State in Orangeburg, S.C., Friday, Nov. 8 at 6 p.m.