PRINCESS ANNE, Md. (Nov. 19) - The FAMU Women's Volleyball team battled valiantly against defending champion Howard University Sunday, but the Bison held off the Rattlers, 3-0 for their third straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship at the Hytche Center on the campus of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
Sunday's verdict dashed FAMU's hopes of ending their MEAC title drought, which grew to eight with the loss, and it was the Rattlers' second straight finals matchup against Howard, and their fourth final since last winning the crown in 2009.
Howard (16-15) was trailing near the midway point of the first set, as FAMU was up 13-9.
But the Bison chipped away at that lead, using a 9-4 spurt to take an 18-17 lead after an ace from Carlise Cardoza. FAMU tied the set again on the next point, but Howard maintained control before ultimately winning the frame 25-22.
The second set was tight early, and Maria Yvett Garcia tied the set at 6-6 with a kill.
Howard responded with a 5-1 push to go up 11-7 after Young and Olubunmi Okunade paired on a block. From that point on, the Lady Rattlers couldn’t get closer than within two and after two sets, Howard was up 2-0.
FAMU led throughout much of the third, up 12-7 at one point. But again, the Bison slowly chipped away at that lead. Nicole Abreu’s kill gave FAMU breathing room at 21-18, but the Bison answered with a 5-2 spurt to tie the set at 23-23 on a Jurnee Tipton kill.
There were four more ties, the last at 27-27, before a Young kill and an Abreu error clinched the title.
Nicole Abreu led the Lady Rattlers (15-12) with 14 kills. Candelaria Herrera added 11 kills.
Abreu and outside hitter Maria Yvett Garcia were named to the All-tournament team.
HOW FAMU REACHED THE FINAL
FAMU, which earned a share of the MEAC Southern Division crown with rival Bethune-Cookman at 9-1, advanced to Sunday's title match with wins over Morgan State Friday, and Northern Divisioon champion Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) on Saturday.
@ In Friday's quarterfinal opener, FAMU ousted Morgan State, 3-1 (25-17, 23-25, 25-23, 25-13), powered by the trio of Abreu (23 kills, 12 digs), Garcia (14 kills, 12 digs) and MEAC Rookie of the Year Candelaria Herrera (10 kills, six digs).
@ Saturday's semifinal against host UMES (27-8), was a 3-0 sweep over the Northern Division champs (25-19, 25-14, 25-18). Garcia led the way in that round with 13 kills and 10 digs, followed by Abreu with eight kills and 10 digs.