DEFENDING MEAC CHAMPION HAWKS SWEEP HORNETS TO START CONFERENCE PLAY
Sept. 25, 2012
DOVER, Del. - The Hawks came back from down four in each of the final two sets to sweep rival Delaware State 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-20) to open MEAC play with a victory at Memorial Hall. UMES snaps a three-match losing streak and improves to 15-4 overall and 1-0 in-conference while DSU goes to 3-9 and 0-1 in the MEAC.
Dating back to last season, UMES has now won 13 straight regular season conference matches.
UMES earned an early 3-0 run, started by a kill and block by Ndidi Ibe (North Richland Hills, Texas), for a 3-1 lead. After DSU tied the score at four, a Victoria Williams (Los Angeles, Calif.) service ace and subsequent Maline Vaitai (Salt Lake City, Utah) kill to cap a 3-0 run put UMES up 7-4. But the Hornets countered by winning six of the next seven points, including a pair of consecutive Brooke Redmon kills, for a 10-8 advantage. At 12-11 Hornets, Corey Haynes (Falls Church, Va.) served the Hawks through a 6-0 run, including another pair of Ibe kills, to take a five-point lead. The game was not over as the home team won three in a row, finished by two Edarkis Branch aces, to go to 19-17. But the Hawks retained the advantage for the rest of the game, taking four of the next five points to go back up by five. UMES took the first set 25-20.
The teams went back and forth to begin the second set as the two squads were tied at five. Jessica Russell-Croucher got a pair of kills in a row, and after a Vaitai kill, Branch got two consecutive kills to put the Hornets up 9-6, eventually going up by four at 11-7. At 13-10 Hornets, Jingqiao Li (Beijing, China) served during a 3-0 run, capped by a kill and solo block by Williams, to tie the set. Following a Laisha Davis kill, UMES earned five kills in a 6-0 streak, beginning with a Williams kill, three from Vaitai and one by Emily Shannon (Cross Junction, Va.), to take a 19-14 lead. Though DSU pulled within three, UMES finished off the Hornets 25-19 to go up 2-0 in the match.
Into the third set, Russell-Croucher's serve helped the Hornets start with the first five points. Starting with a Williams block, Megan Mueller (Manchester, Mo.) served to a Hawks 4-0 run to pull UMES back within one. At 6-4 DSU, Williams had two straight kills, then a Li ace and Shannon kill pushed the Hawks up 8-6 as UMES won eight of nine points. DSU eventually took an 11-10 lead as the teams traded points. Kills by Davis and Branch pushed Delaware State up by two, and later Russell-Croucher kills put the home team up 20-18 late. But UMES came back again in the late hour. After an Ibe kill, Mueller served strong again for the Hawks as Ibe and Williams blocked a Davis attack to tie the score at 20. DSU committed two straight unforced attack errors, then Jessie Vicic (Cambridge, Ontario, Canada) and Ibe blocked a Jasmine Jackson attack for a 23-20 lead. After a Russell-Croucher attack error, Vicic and Ibe blocked Jackson again to complete a 7-0 run and complete the comeback. UMES won the third set 25-20 to sweep the Hornets in Dover.
As a team, UMES hit .355 with 37 kills and just 10 errors, also earned 10 blocks to DSU's three. Vaitai led the Hawks with 13 kills, hitting .385 in the match, with four digs and a block. Ibe had a team-best six blocks, adding seven kills with no errors to hit .500. Williams earned 11 kills, 10 of them coming in the final two sets, with five total blocks, two of them solo. Vicic finished with 29 assists, six digs and four blocks.
For the Hornets, Russell-Croucher had nine kills with four aces and six digs. Brach also contributed nine kills, adding eight digs, three aces and a trio of blocks.
UMES will play another road match this week, taking on Howard on Sunday, September 30th at 3 p.m. in Washington, D.C.