WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The Winston-Salem State Rams (14-8, 10-2 CIAA) took a five-set win over the Fayetteville State Broncos (10-5, 7-3 CIAA) in yet another classic match-up between the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Southern Division rivals. After winning the opening two sets, 25-22 and 25-13, the Rams took back-to-back set losses, 20-25 and 23-25 before bouncing back and rallying for a 15-8 fifth-set win.
The match between two of the top offensive teams in the CIAA definitely lived up to its billing. The Rams finished the match with 53 total kills while Fayetteville State recorded 48 kills. WSSU sophomore outside hitter Mia Herrod led the way for WSSU with 18 kills in the match while junior right side hitter Jasmine Smith added 16 kills. Defensively, freshman Mikayla Lytton added 18 digs while junior Sydney Holland added 15 digs.
The match was an exciting affair from the very beginning as the opening set was one of the most thrilling of the season. The Rams had to rally early after Fayetteville State jumped out with an 8-3 lead. WSSU took its first lead after a 7-1 run that featured kills from Holland and Smith along with three bad sets from FSU and left the Rams on top 15-14. After falling behind 20-22, the Rams took the set win with five straight points, including a kill from junior setter Mya Snow and four FSU errors. In the end, the Rams claimed the opening set win.
The second set was not quite as thrilling as the Rams jumped ahead early and never looked back. The Rams opened the set with a 5-2 lead, but the team's lead was erased with a three-point Fayetteville State run that tied the set 5-5. The Rams really took control of the set, scoring six straight points, including a Holland kill and a block from Holland and senior middle blocker Jocelyn Mills that left the Rams on top, 15-8. After pushing the Rams' lead to 11 points, 22-11, the Rams closed out the set with a three-point run that included kills from Herrod, sophomore middle blocker Christa Brown, and a service ace from sophomore Tasia Chambers.
The Rams' momentum fell short in the third set with Fayetteville State controlling much of the set. The Rams got out to a slow start as they allowed Fayetteville State to take a 12- 5 lead. After falling to a seven-point deficit, 10-17, the Rams kept the set within reach before staging a 4-1 rally that included a Smith kill and a pair of bad FSU sets and pulled the Rams to within two points, 18-20. However, Fayetteville State had the answers as they closed out the set to win 25-23.
With the momentum swinging to both sides of the court, the two teams had a classic match-up in the fourth set. The two teams played to a 5-5 tie before Fayetteville State broke out for a 13-8 lead. The Rams rallied with three straight points that included a Smith kill and a block from Brown. Later in the set, the Rams had another three-point rally that included a Herrod kill and a pair of FSU errors. The Rams kept their lead 20-19 with another Smith kill. However, the Rams could not hold on to their lead as the Broncos scored three straight points to leave the Rams trailing, 22-20. After falling behind, 24-21, the Rams recorded back-to-back kills from Smith and Brown, but Fayetteville State closed out the set with a kill that tied the match at two sets a piece.
The tied set score set the stage for a thrilling fifth set, but the Rams took the drama out of the set early. After playing to a 5-5 tie, the Rams broke out with a 5-1 run that included a pair of Herrod kills. The run left the Rams on top 10-6. Once in control, the Rams never looked back with a 5-2 run that was capped by a Smith service ace that clinched the 15-8 fifth-set victory and the 3-2 match victory.
With the win, the Rams improve to 14-8 overall and 10-2 in CIAA play. The Rams won't have long to rest, however, as the team will host Lees-McRae in their annual Dig Pink match, tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. For more information on Rams volleyball, contact the WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations at (336) 750-2143 or log on towww.WSSURams.com.