PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – No matter what time of the year it is, on a Friday Night down at the Eastern Shore of Maryland, you would expect the biggest crowd to be somewhere around Ocean City. But there was a hot ticket in town to get and that was to watch the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore(UMES) Hawks Women’s volleyball team. They took on conference foe, the Delaware State Hornets.
In front of a 2,561 enthusiastic fans at the Hytche Center, the Hawks defeated the Hornets, three sets to one. The victory moved UMES to a perfect 7-0 record in the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference North Division (MEAC) and 20-6 overall as they continue to look forward to both the upcoming MEAC tournament and hopefully a bid into the 2017 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament. Delaware State fell to 2-20 overall and 2-4 in the MEAC.
Overall, it truly was a team effort as four separate Hawks had more than 10 kills and they combined for a total of 10 service aces. They also played a really clean match, only committing a total of 10 errors (four in the first set, one in the second set, three in the third set and two in the fourth set). The Hawks had a team hitting percentage of .461 (you take the number of kills, subtract the number of errors and then divide that number by the number of total attacks to get the hitting percentage). As in baseball, if a team has a hitting percentage above .300, that’s consider top-notch.
With Hawks Junior OH Rachel Kayongo’s kill on the ninth point of the first set, UMES was out to an 8-1 lead. They would have another mini-run of 6-0 after Delaware State got to within four points at 10-6. Hawks Junior OH Lucia Babic had a service ace to make it 16-6 Hawks and then closed out the set on an 8-2 run winning it 25-12 on Sophomore OH Iva Vujosevic’s service ace.
A ball handling error by Hawks Sophomore S Ivana Blazevic and a kill by Hornets Senior OH Sabina Szmajduch gave the Hornets an early 2-0 lead to begin the second set. After four consecutive points by the Hawks made it 4-2 UMES, helped by a set error by Kayongo and the Hornets were within a point. That was as close at they would get for the rest of the set. A run of 9-2 capped off by an attack error on Hornets Freshman OH Mayah Ngundam would give the Hawks a 13-5 lead. Another one of Vujosevic’s service aces finished the next run for the Hawks and gave them a 23-9 lead. The Hornets would win the next two points on a service error from Vujosevic and a service ace by Szmajduch before the Hawks wrapped up the second set, 25-11 on Ngundam’s attack error.
Just a little past halfway through the third set, UMES held a 16-15 lead and looked ready to sweep Delaware State, three sets to none. The Hornets reeled off their best stretch of the match, going on a 9-4 run of their own and after a kill by Ngundam made it 24-20 Hornets, the Hawks would win the next three points on a service error by Hornets Senior S Gabriella Enriques and two kills by Hawks Junior OH Lucia Babic and Senior MB Alana Polk to cut the lead to 24-23.
On Hawks Junior L Maja Jankovic’s service error would give the Hornets the third set at 25-23.
It looked like winning the third set gave the Hornets some much needed confidence as they would match the Hawks point for point in the fourth set. After a kill by Enriquez gave the Hornets a 10-9 lead, the Hawks decided they had enough and needed to finish the Hornets off and not go a decisive fifth set. The Hawks would go on an 8-0 run, with them winning the last two points on back to back attack error on Szmajduch and they Hawks had a 17-10 lead.
Evenutally on their first set and match point at 24-15, Babic’s kill finish the match as the Hawks took the fourth set, 25-15 and won the match, three sets to one.
Up next for UMES is Bethune-Cookman (8-10; 5-0 MEAC South Division) in a battle of the last two undefeated teams in the MEAC. This match at Hytche Center is scheduled for Sunday, October 22nd at 1 pm.