Morgan earns return trip to NCAAs Down 2-1, Bears rally to defend MEAC title

Volleyball

November 15, 1998|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Although Morgan State realized it had enough talent for another Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference volleyball championship, some questions arose about how the Bears have handled adversity.

Yesterday, the Bears answered in championship style.

On the verge of having its season ended, Morgan State rallied behind Nyree Moore's 31 kills to win the last two games and edge North Carolina A&T in a five-game, 2 1/2 -hour match, 9-15, 17-16, 6-15, 15-8, 15-13, yesterday in the MEAC final at the Coppin Center.

Last year, Morgan State became the first historically black college to make the NCAA Division I tournament. With yesterday's victory, the Bears (18-14), winners of 35 straight conference matches and the No. 1 seed of the league's Northern Division, defended their title to became the first MEAC school to earn an automatic bid to the postseason.

"We made history last year and were focused to make history again," said Morgan coach Ramonda Riley-Bozier, whose Bears will have a two-week layoff before the NCAA tournament begins. "I have to honestly say this is one of the first times that we've actually stayed up. When we've gotten down before, we would just go down. But today, they proved they were capable of doing that."

North Carolina A&T (15-15), the top seed of the Southern Division, needed to win only one more game for the title after taking a 2-1 lead by dominating the third game. The Aggies scored the first 11 points of the third game, cruising to a 15-6 win.

However, unlike with previous deficits, Morgan didn't back down from the challenge. The Bears seized the momentum back at the start of the fourth game, rolling to a 9-0 lead to win by a 15-8 margin and tie the match at two games apiece.

In the deciding fifth game, which featured five ties and four lead changes, the Bears proved too strong at the end. Leading 13-12, Morgan put the match away with a Moore kill and a Lamar-Renee Bryant block of North Carolina A&T's Vania Blake, the MEAC's Player of the Year.

"We were hungry for another ring," Moore said. "We just wanted it more."

Northeast Conference tournament: Top seed UMBC (21-6) and No. 2 seed Fairleigh Dickinson (13-12) advanced with semifinal victories yesterday and will meet for the title at 3 p.m. today. The Retrievers beat Quinnipiac in the semis, and the Knights eliminated St. Francis, Pa.

Pub Date: 11/15/98

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