GREENSBORO - Senior Andrea Evans was honored on Friday. On
Sunday, she showed out. After being honored on Friday's Senior Night at Moore Gymnasium, Evans
actually played her final volleyball match for North Carolina A&T two days
later, and it will be an afternoon she will never forget.
Evans finished with eight kills, 13 total attacks, three
total blocks, no attack errors and a .615 hitting percentage to lead the Aggies
to an upset three-set win (25-22, 25-17, 26-24) over S.C State. It was the best
single-match hitting percentage of her career when having at least 12 attempts.
"Andrea was not just phenomenal today, but she has been
phenomenal for us all season," said A&T coach Hal Clifton. "I hope she truly
gets the recognition I think she truly deserves. She's been very efficient as an
attacker. She doesn't get the big exciting kills all the time, but she scores
and she scores really well when we set her."
Evans is the epitome of what the Aggies hope the program can
be. In her first career match played on Oct. 16, 2009, Evans played one set,
had one attack error on one total attack and finished with no blocks. She improved immensely throughout her career,
and thus walked away from the program with one of the best individual performances
of the past four years.
A&T played six freshmen on Sunday. During the course of
the season, the Aggies lost all three MEAC five-set matches they played. It
leaves one to think what could have been, and what is yet to come.
"Today gives us a vote of confidence that what we've been
focusing on is going to work," said Clifton, who saw his Aggies finish 3-29
overall and 3-7 in the MEAC. "It gives them that confidence that not only can
we compete, but we can also finish. That was our biggest problem this year, we've
had five-set matches where we didn't finish. We've had individual sets where we
didn't finish. Today, we learned we can compete, we can finish and they can be
a very strong opponent in this league."
A&T's win marked
the first time the Aggies have defeated a team other than Savannah State since
defeating Winston-Salem State on Nov. 6, 2009, and it is the first time they
have defeated a conference opponent other than SSU since beating S.C. State on
Nov. 2, 2008. The Aggies three MEAC wins are the most since the 2007 team won
five, and they have their first two-match winning streak in five years.
The milestones were earned in dominant fashion as the Aggies
held 2011 MEAC Player of the Year Desire Waller in check over the first two
sets. She had a combined nine errors in the first two sets, and the Bulldogs
had a paltry .027 hitting percentage to show for it. Meanwhile, the Aggies kept freshman hitter
Brooke Stamnes busy. The Aggies set her 18 times and she put down seven kills
in the first set.
Despite Stamnes' strong performance, a Waller kill put the
Bulldogs down 24-22 in the first set. But a Waller service error gave the
Aggies the set. The Aggies had little trouble against the Bulldogs in the
second set, giving the Aggies a two-set lead.
"We wanted to finish it in three," said Clifton. "We didn't
want to give them any confidence."
It took some handwringing for Clifton to get his wish. The
Bulldogs took a 23-22 lead on a Taylor Bailey kill. Freshman hitter Aleena McDaniel
then faked like she was going to take a pass from setter Chelsea Fox. Instead
Evans came to the middle to get the pass, and crushed it to tie the game.
The Bulldogs (9-14, 6-4) regained the lead, but a kill by
McDaniel and two Bulldog attack errors gave the Aggies the 26-24 set win, as
the A&T players rushed the floor in celebration.
"It has been a growing process the entire season," said
Clifton. "We've just been trying to get better each match. We're still working
toward that goal of putting it all together. Today was very special. We had two
players (Evans and Devtone' Reese) playing in their final home match at
A&T, and we had people wanting to prove themselves. We felt like we could
compete with this team, and we were able to do that."
Evans ended her career without ever having one of her teams
qualify for the MEAC Volleyball Championships. But she did go out as a winner,
which is not a bad consolation prize.