Late Comeback Over Shaw Puts St. Aug In CIAA Volleyball Tournament
Posted November 6, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Taking a cue from the football team, the Saint Augustine’s University volleyball team staged a rally of its own to defeat Shaw in five sets before a capacity crowd in Emery Gymnasium on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012.
Led by a career-high 27 kills from Victoria Davis (Jr./San Diego, Calif.), the Lady Falcons dug themselves out of an 0-2 hole including a 9-3 deficit in the fifth set to pull out an amazing win with University President Dr. Dianne Boardley Suber in attendance. The Lady Falcons earned bragging rights and a spot in the CIAA Tournament with the victory.
The Lady Falcons are 3-6 in the Southern Division with one match left while the Lady Bears are 3-7. In case both teams tie, the Lady Falcons will advance to the tournament based on a better conference record. The win puts the Lady Falcons at 6-9 in the CIAA while the Lady Bears finish conference play at 5-11.
“I am really proud of the girls,” St. Aug Head Coach Nikki Bynum said. “They did not quit. We went down early 0-2 but we focused on one point at a time. We fought real, real hard and left it on the court.”
Two days before, the St. Aug football team scored on the last play to beat the crosstown rival Bears 43-42 at home on the last play after trailing most of the game by double digits.
In fact, several members of the football team were among the mob of fans that rushed the floor and swarmed the Lady Falcons in a victory celebration after Davis ended the match with a kill.
“I was celebrating with the girls and I looked up and there was a great big crowd coming at us,” said Bynum, laughing. “It was a packed gym. Everybody came out.”
Davis added 12 digs in her best match as a Lady Falcon. Brittany Hicks (Sr./Louisburg, N.C.) added 12 kills while Julieesa Thomas (Fr./St. Croix, US Virgin Islands) handed out 42 assists. Defense aided the comeback as four players totaled double digits in digs led by Chelsea Farrior (Soph./Tampa, Fla.) with 18. Dionna Hopkins (Fr./St. Croix, US Virgin Islands) and Cierra Neal (So./New Hill, N.C.) followed with 15 digs apiece.
Led by Crystal Gordon (20 kills), Sashane Watson (14 kills) and Shaye Walton (11 kills), the Lady Bears (10-17 overall) eased out to a 2-0 lead although both sets were close (25-21, 25-20). The Lady Falcons switched tactics to turn the tide in their favor.
“I changed the lineup a little bit,” Bynum said. “We went to a quicker attack. Shaw had big girls and they blocked very well. We picked up our speed on offense. I also challenged the players.”
Feeding off the energy of the crowd, the Lady Falcons evened the match at 2-2 with victories in the third (26-24) and fourth (25-22) sets. The Lady Bears regained the momentum in the fifth set, leading 9-3 and seemingly on their way to a season sweep. The Lady Falcons, fueled by the fans, dug deep and reeled off ten of the next 11 points for a 13-10 lead. The Lady Bears tied the score at 14-14, but Davis recorded the final two kills on assists from Thomas to touch off the celebration.
“The crowd took us to victory,” Bynum said. “When we were down, they were up. The spirit of the fans took Shaw over the hump when we played them at Shaw and it took us over the hump tonight.”
The thrilling victory snapped a five-match losing streak for the Lady Falcons, who are 6-20 overall. It is easily the highlight of a less-than-stellar season for the defending CIAA champions, who lost to Shaw in five sets in their gym last month. The Lady Falcons won the rematch Monday despite missing two key players due to injury.
Despite their record, Bynum says the Lady Falcons will be ready to compete in the tournament. She can point to last year as inspiration when the Lady Falcons entered the postseason as underdogs and won the CIAA championship.
“When you go to the tournament, it is a new season,” Bynum said. “It doesn’t matter what you did during the regular season. Hopefully, the tournament will give us new life.”