UMES COMES BACK TO DEFEAT NSU TO WIN SIXTH STRAIGHT MEAC NORTHERN DIVISION TITLE
Nov. 10, 2012
NORFOLK, Va. - Coming back from down two sets, UMES rallied to defeat Norfolk State (16-25, 17-25, 25-12, 25-20, 18-16) to secure its sixth straight MEAC Northern Division championship. The Hawks will be the MEAC North 1-seed in the upcoming conference tournament, improving to 11-0 in-conference and 25-4 overall. The Spartans fall to 8-3 in the MEAC and 12-19 overall.
UMES, which had to defend against match point twice in the final set, increases its conference winning streak to 23-straight victories. In addition, the Hawks are a perfect 6-0 in five-set matches, including twice coming back from down two sets, the last time against Howard on October 30th in Washington D.C.
With the 1-seed from the MEAC North, UMES will face the 4-seed from the MEAC South in the conference tournament on Friday at 1 p.m.
In the first set, action started back and forth as NSU's first two points were countered by kills from Saitaua Iosia (Long Beach, Calif.) and Victoria Williams (Los Angeles, Calif.). Aided by four early kills by Maline Vaitai (Salt Lake City, Utah), UMES kept pace with the Spartans, taking a two-point lead off consecutive kills from Vaitai and Ndidi Ibe (North Richland Hills, Texas) for a 14-12 advantage. But following a Charlotte Armstead kill, Darcy Moore served the Spartans through a 9-0 run, including three Coralie Jarema kills. An Ibe kill and Vaitai ace were not enough as NSU finished with a 4-0 run to take set one 25-16.
At 2-2 in the second set, the Spartans went on a 3-0 run. UMES chipped the deficit to two at 6-4 after an Iosia kill, but NSU won four points in a row for a 10-4 lead, building it to 14-6 later. A Williams kill followed by an Ibe and Jessie Vicic (Cambridge, Ontario, Canada) combo block got UMES closer, but again Norfolk State countered with a pair of points. A couple of late runs by UMES, including a 3-0 one and a 4-0 run off Iosia's serving, were not enough as the Spartans took the second set 25-17 and go up 2-0 in the match.
With UMES needing boost in the third set, Iosia started off with a kill, block and kill in succession to start the Hawks up 3-0. At 6-4 UMES, the Hawks rolled off four kills, two each by Ibe and Vaitai, in a run of five straight points for an 11-4 lead. Following an Armstead kill, UMES padded the lead using an Ibe kill, Iosia kill and Jarema attack error to go up 14-5. The Maroon and Gray did not lose multiple points in a row all set, using a 3-0 run capped by a Vaitai block and kill, for a 23-10 lead, eventually taking the game 25-12 and pulling within one set.
Norfolk State got an early 5-3 lead in the fourth set. Starting with a Corey Haynes (Falls Church, Va.) kill, UMES won six of the next seven points, including a pair of kills each from Vaitai and Ibe, to surge ahead 9-6. Later at 13-11 Hawks, the Spartans won the next three, started by a Goda Jankauskaite kill, to take a 14-13 lead. Vaitai got a kill to tie the set, but NSU took the following three points to push ahead 17-14. After an exchange of points, UMES got an important 3-0 run off Vaitai's serving, capped by an Iosia kill, to tie the set at 18. Later, the set was tied at 20 with the Spartans serving. Following an Iosia kill to give UMES the lead, Vicic served for the Hawks. Jarema committed an attack error, then Iosia got a kill and a combo block with Haynes to earn set point. An error by Moore completed a 5-0 UMES run, giving the Hawks a 25-20 fourth set win and forcing a tiebreaker.
The fifth set started poorly for UMES, as Jessica Johnson had a pair of aces to give the home team a 4-0 run. At 6-2, Iosia again came through for UMES, starting with a kill and an ace. A Vaitai kill and Williams kill closed the gap, and an Armstead attack error pushed UMES ahead 7-6. After a Jasmin Flowers kill, UMES retook the lead on a 3-0 run, including a Vaitai and Ibe combo block, to take a 10-7 advantage. The Spartans closed the gap to one, with an Ibe kill keeping UMES up two 12-10. Johnson got a block then started serving again, putting together a 4-0 run to give the Spartans a pair of match points at 14-12. UMES sided out with an Iosia kill, giving Ibe the serve. On the next point, Noelle Eagles committed an error, tying the set at 14. Then, a combo block by Haynes and Vicic gave UMES its first match point. Armstead earned a kill to tie it back up at 15. Iosia earned a kill to again get match point, but again Armstead got a kill to tie the game up. Following another Iosia kill, Armstead's attack on the following point landed out-of-bounds, giving the Hawks an 18-16 fifth set win and completing the two-set comeback this season.
Iosia led the Hawks with a double double, hitting .327 with a season-high 24 kills and 13 digs, adding four aces and three blocks. Vaitai concluded with 16 kills, six digs and three blocks. Haynes led UMES in blocks with six, adding a pair of kills and assists. Ibe had 10 kills with five digs and four blocks, while Vicic ended with 54 assists, eight digs, four blocks and two kills.
For Norfolk State, Armstead finished with 17 kills and a pair of blocks. Johnson had a near double double with eight kills, 11 digs and a pair of aces, while Jarema had 10 kills, all in the first two sets, and a team-best three blocks.
UMES will play its final regular season match on Sunday when it heads back to Virginia to take on Hampton at 3 p.m.