FAMU won its eighth consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) volleyball championship, surviving the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) in a 3-2 (17-25, 25-15, 23-25, 31-29, 15-10) win in the championship match Sunday in Holland Hall on the campus of Hampton University.
The Lady Hawks (25-9) appeared to have the match won, up two games to one and leading late in the fourth set 22-19. But the Lady Rattlers fought back eventually taking the marathon set, 31-29.
In the fifth and deciding set tied at 10-all, a kill by FAMU and two attack errors by UMES put the Lady Rattlers up 13-10. After a service ace from FAMU's Jovana Blasezki and a timeout by UMES, Samara Ferraz, the 2008 MEAC Tournament Outstanding Performer, recorded a kill to end the set at 15-10 and seal the victory.
Blazeski, who made the All-Tournament team, led FAMU (14-11) with 30 kills, while Ferraz recorded 25. Maria Gomez was the third Lady Rattler to record double-digit kills, ending up with 13.
Susan Egoavil had 69 of FAMU's 74 assists, while Blazeski added a team-high 16 digs for a double-double performance. Cinthya Corzo added 14 digs on defense, while Gomez also had a double-double, recording 13 digs.
Head Coach Tony Trifonov was named the Outstanding Coach for the eighth straight year.
“It feels awesome to win the title with this team due to the adversity and injuries we have had this year,” said Trifonov. “The girls played with a lot of heart and we pulled out two five game sets this tournament so we are really lucky. All the credit goes to the girls for putting in a great effort in a difficult win.”
Samantha Chukwura and Christine Edwards, the MEAC Rookie of the Year, each led the Lady Hawks with 15 kills, while Chukwura had a team-high .778 attack percentage.
Thonya Joseph added 13 kills, while Whitney Johnson recorded 10. MEAC Player of the Year Christina Estebane' recorded 54 of UMES' 59 assists, while also recording a team-high 20 digs. Caylin Woodward added 15 digs on defense.
“Coming into the match, we knew that we would be up against the number one team in the south and it's a match that everyone would expect to go five sets, which it did,” explained Lady Hawks Head Coach Don Metil. “I thought that the third set that we regrouped very well after we lost the second set by a large margin and we put ourselves in a position in set four to have numerous match points and unfortunately we ran out of subs.”
FAMU will advance to the NCAA Volleyball Tournament, which opens the weekend of December 4-7, for the eighth straight year and the ninth time in 10 years.
Tournament pairings will be announced on Sunday, November 30 on ESPN News.
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