PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – The University of Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks might have been feeling a little extra pressure as the 2017 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Women’s Volleyball Tournament got underway on Friday afternoon. Why? You may ask. Because they are the host college for this year’s tournament.
The Hawks (27-7) came into the tournament as the #1 North Seed and the only MEAC team to go undefeated in conference play at 11-0. Their first test was the North Carolina Central Eagles in the second of four quarter-final match ups. UMES had little trouble getting through to the semi-finals as they swept past the Eagles (4-20), three sets to none (25-15; 25-17; 25-23).
Sophomore OH Iva Vujosevic led the Hawks with 13 kills. For the Eagles, Junior MB Whitney White also had 13 kills.
Though the play was somewhat sloppy in the beginning of the first set, the Hawks did jump out to an early 7-2 lead but NC Central responded with back to back points, but another 4-2 mini-run caused the Eagles to call time-out, trailing 11-6. Out of the time out, the Hawks were relentless as they outscored the Eagles 14-9 to close out the first set, 25-15. Helping out to win the set was a kill by Hawks Senior MB Alana Polk.
NC Central played tough in the beginning and towards the middle of the second set, even holding an 11-10 at one point. UMES would go on a 9-3 run, capped off by Junior L Maja Jankovic’s service ace and the Eagles were forced to use a time out, trailing 19-14. The Eagles could not stay with the Hawks and on Junior S Carolina Machado’s kill, UMES took the second set, 25-17 and a commanding two sets to none lead.
The most competitive set turned out to be the third and White literally put the team on her back as she would register four kills to tie the set at 5-5. After a see-saw battle that saw the score tied again at 17-17, NC Central would use a 6-4 advantage to take a 23-21 and looked poised to claim the three set. But UMES stormed to take the final four points of the third and on Graduating Senior MB/OPP Mere Serea’s kill, the Hawks won the set, 25-23, the match three sets to one and punch their ticket to tomorrow’s semi-finals.
In the semi-finals, they will face the Florida A&M Rattlers, who defeated the Morgan State Bears, three sets to one in the first quarterfinal game of the day. The match is slated to start at Noon EST.
One thing could be said about this year’s Hawks. They are very well represented with many countries besides the United States. Vujosevic hails from Montengro. Serea’s home country is Fiji. Machado is from Brazil. Jankovic comes to the Hawks from Serbia. Lucia Babic and Ivana Blazevic were born in Croatia and Eva Valentova calls the Czech Republic her home country. It is very nice to see this group of girls from many countries come together to play some outstanding volleyball for UMES.