WASHINGTON, D.C. – North Carolina A&T lost a five-set thriller (26-24,24-26,16-25,25-23,11-15) to Morgan State Saturday night at Burr Gymnasium.
The Aggies dropped to 16-14 on the season, while Morgan State (18-12) will advance to meet Howard in Sunday’s championship match. The Aggies season may not be over. N.C. A&T has an opportunity to get a bid into the National Invitational Volleyball Championship that begins the first weekend in December.
“I thought Morgan State played very well and we didn’t play at the level we are able to play at,” N.C. A&T coach Hal Clifton said. “Losing the second set was a really tough one to swallow. Edie (Brewer) played well as did Andrea (Laboy-Rivera), but we didn’t score enough from the pins. Makaylah (Elliott) did a nice job with seven blocks and some solid kills.”
Brewer finished with 18 kills, 24 assists and nine digs to go along with six blocks, four service aces and a .245 hitting percentage. Elliott tied her career-high with 10 kills and a team-high seven blocks while hitting .364. Freshman setter Addy Warfield added a double-double with 25 assists and 12 digs.
Laboy-Rivera led the team with 19 digs, while senior outside hitter Christa Wilson added 14 digs. Sophomore right side hitter Fatimah Shabazz added eight kills and three blocks. Junior outside hitter Courteney Pitt added seven kills and 11 digs.
“We are all disappointed in the loss, but the team had a great season. We set school records, won some tough five-setters but above all, we grew as a family,” said Clifton. “I’m so proud of this group of young women for the work they put in this year. The efforts they made and the time we had together made it a great year.”
The Aggies were the MEAC Southern Division champions after winning a school-record 13 MEAC matches. Clifton was named coach of the year in the MEAC while Brewer earned co-player of the year honors.
The Aggies played hard all night. They trailed 20-17 in the first set before rallying to take a 22-21 advantage. After back-to-back MSU points gave the Bears a point lead, 23-22, a Pitt kill tied the set at 23. Another Bears kill gave MSU set point at 24-23. But a Shabazz kill, an MSU attack error and a Laboy-Rivera kill gave N.C. A&T the first set.
Set No. 2 also came down to the wire as the Aggies lost a heartbreaker.
The Aggies held a 23-20 lead. Morgan rallied to take a 24-23 lead before a Brewer kill tied the set at 24. But McBride and Tylar Robeson scored on kills for Morgan to give the Bears the set tying the match 1-1.
Morgan used the momentum to take a 10-2 lead in the third set as they went on to win the set by nine, 25-16.
N.C. A&T was resilient despite trailing in the fourth set 23-22. Refusing to let their season come to an end, the Aggies tied the match on a Brewer kill. Two straight attack errors by the Bears gave the Aggies the fourth set setting up the exciting fifth set.
The Bears were led by McBride’s 26 kills and 15 digs. Roi Wallace added 50 assists and 16.