Aggies Open MEAC Play With Win Over NCCU
DURHAM, N.C. -- North Carolina A&T State and North Carolina Central put their heated rivalry on full display once again Thursday on the volleyball court. For the fourth time in six matches, the Aggies and the Eagles went five sets, with North Carolina A&T taking the victory to open conference play.
Senior Samara Brown notched her fourth double-double of the season and 16th of her career with 14 kills and 10 digs powering the Aggies in the final two sets. Freshman Courteney Pitt chipped in 13 kills while freshman Edie Brewer added nine kills and a team-high 31 assists. Freshman Milanna Morgan had a season-best 17 digs with three service aces, and sophomore Christa Wilson had 15 digs.
Senior Jasmine Lindor tied a career-high with four service aces and senior Alyssa Pitt contributed five kills, seven assists and five digs.
Trailing NCCU 2-1 in the match, Brown powered the Aggies in the fourth and fifth sets combining for seven kills. With their backs against the wall in the fourth, the Aggies exploded for a .294 attack percentage on 13 kills. The Aggies were forced into a timeout after the Eagles tied the set at 19 and then the duo of Courteney Pitt and Brown recorded five out of the final six points for the win.
In the fifth set, two quick kills by Brown followed by Morgan’s ace gave the Aggies a 5-2 advantage. N.C. Central called a timeout and then tied set at 6 on a service ace. The Aggies then went on a 5-0 run aided by two Courteney Pitt kills and a Brown kill. Once the Aggies had control of the set and ultimately the match, Alyssa Pitt closed out the Eagles with a kill in the fifth to improve the Aggies to 8-9 overall and 1-0 in the MEAC.
“We knew it was going to be a battle from the beginning”, said A&T coach Hal Clifton. “We just kept telling our team to keep battling and competing. By the end of the match we put it together and were okay. Our offense picked it up in the fourth and fifth sets, but we struggled hitting in the first three. We cannot rely on what could be at the end of the match but come out strong and be a better hitting team.”
N.C. A&T was off to a fast start with four service aces in the opening set. The Aggies led the entire set, hitting .182 at the net with Edie Brewer’s four kills on five attempts in the set. Brewer added five assists with four digs and Samara Brown followed with three kills. Jasmine Lindor connected on a pair of aces springing the Aggies to a 21-12 lead. N.C. Central struggled combining for 10 errors as the Aggies won Set 1.
The Aggie attack continued early on with Lindor’s ace giving them their largest lead of the second set, 12-7. NCCU shifted momentum with an 11-0 run to take an 18-12 lead. The run spearheaded the Eagles to the set victory.
In the third set, Brewer brought the Aggies to within two, 24-22, on a kill. But NCCU won the set on a service error by Brown.
The Aggies recorded season highs with 67 digs and 15 service aces.
“Luckily tonight, we came up with some big points down the stretch. Samara had some great points for us in the fifth set that got us the momentum. But that is not going to get us through this conference. Our players have to be smarter and our hitting has to improve," Clifton said.