Sunday, November 20, 2016
Howard Wins Second Straight MEAC Volleyball Championship
PRINCESS ANNE, Maryland – In stellar fashion, the Howard volleyball team claimed its second straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Championship by defeating Florida A&M in four sets (25-20, 25-14, 23-25, 25-20) on Sunday afternoon in Hytche Athletic Center.
Howard will make its second straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament by earning the conference's automatic berth.
The Bison (26-5) did not lose to a MEAC opponent during the 2016 season and only dropped four sets to conference foes. Howard is also on a 16-match winning streak heading into the NCAA Tournament.
It is the third year in a row that Howard has beaten FAMU in the MEAC Tournament.
Junior Khaila Donaldson finished the match with her 13th double-double of the season (13 kills, 13 digs). Senior Katherine Broussard posted 11 kills and team-high 18 digs, while junior Jessica Young had 13 kills and a match-best seven blocks.
Sophomore Tamia Dockery had her eighth double-double (41 assists, 10 digs) and senior Morgan Marlbrough scooped up 15 digs. Classmates Dominique Cleggett and Whitney Fields tallied six and five blocks, respectively.
The Bison opened up the championship match on an 8-1 run on a pair of blocks and kills by Fields, Donaldson and Broussard. Howard extended its lead to 17-11 with the help of multiple errors by FAMU. Hard hits by Donaldson and Broussard moved the score to 20-15. Two kills by the Lady Rattlers and an HU error brought FAMU within three, 20-17, and Howard needed to call a timeout. Right back out, Fields came up with a one-handed block to force a FAMU timeout. Young delivered the final strike to take the set, 25-20.
The Lady Rattlers were quick to use a timeout to start the second set after Howard went on a 6-2 run behind two kills from Young, a service ace by Fields and tough spike by Broussard. FAMU had to use its final timeout of the set when the Bison went on another 6-2 run to bring the score to 12-4. Howard refused to slow down after great rallies to push the lead to 21-9. The Lady Rattlers gained momentum on quick points to send Howard to its bench but Cleggett rectified that issue with a kill to close the set, 25-14.
Both teams came out swinging in the third set, which featured eight ties early on. However, the Bison began to pull away, 14-11, which made the Lady Rattlers head to their sideline. FAMU regained the lead on an ace but Cleggett laid the ball down hard to knot the set at 16. The two team exchanged the next eight points. The Lady Rattlers decided to call for time when an attack error put the Bison up by one, 21-20. Three errors by Howard ended the set in favor of FAMU, 25-23.
Howard had to regroup to start the fourth set when FAMU got ahead 9-6. The Bison wouldn't be deterred as they went on an 8-2 run for a 16-14 upper hand. The Lady Rattlers tried to fight back but a scorcher by Donaldson sent them back to their bench and gave Howard a 21-18 lead. Fields helped the Bison to a match-point opportunity with a kill and Dockery served a beautiful ace to win the championship.
Donaldson, Young and Broussard were named to the All-Tournament Team for their performances. Donaldson was also named Outstanding Performer by averaging 3.55 kills and 4.27 digs through three matches in the tournament. Head coach Shaun Kupferberg was selected as Outstanding Coach.
It has been a long road to the championship and the Bison are looking forward to some down time before heading to the Big Dance.
"We get some rest," said Kupferberg. "Most of us have been going at it pretty hard the last couple of weeks to make sure we were ready for this. After we get some rest and relax a little bit, we're going to prepare the same way we always do. Our goal in practices is to make sure we are incrementally better every single day. That's all we're going to keep doing."
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