WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The Winston-Salem State Rams (7-10, 6-0 CIAA) closed the 2018 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Volleyball Round Up in dramatic fashion when the team took a thrilling five-set win over the Virginia State Trojans (12-5, 6-2 CIAA). After taking a 2-1 deficit into the fourth set, the Rams bounced back for wins in the fourth and fifth sets to claim the 25-22, 21-25, 20-25, 25-19, and 15-10 victory.
The Rams had to dig deep to claim the win with one of their best performances of the season. As a team, the Rams totaled 46 kills in the match. The team also recorded five service aces. Junior outside hitter Ytae Cobb led the way for the Rams with a double-double 16 kills and 10 total blocks (six solo) in the match. Freshman libero Gabrielle Azar led the team's defensive effort with 15 digs in the match.
The match was a thrilling affair from the very beginning. The Rams opened the first set with seven unanswered points to take a 7-0 lead. But, things got heated immediately as Virginia State answered with five straight points of their own. After holding on to the lead, 11-9, the Rams broke things open with four straight points, including a Cobb kill and four straight VSU attack errors. Later in the set, the Rams allowed the Trojans to pull to within two points, 19-17, but the team once again scored three unanswered points to take a 21-17 lead after a kill from redshirt-freshman middle blocker Gabrielle Greene. Virginia State once again cut into the WSSU lead, 23-22 before a Cobb kill and a block from Greene and sophomore middle blocker Tailar Jackson sealed the 25-22 opening set win.
The second and third sets belonged to the Trojans. After allowing the Trojans to take a 13-12 lead near the midway point of the set, the Rams allowed a big run to fall behind 14-20. After falling behind, 15-23, the Rams mounted a furious comeback effort with six straight points. The run included a pair of Cobb kills and a solo block. However, the Rams were not able to overcome and took the 21-25 loss in the second set. The third set saw much of the same with Virginia State jumping out to a 9-1 lead before the Rams went on a five-point rally later in the set to cut their deficit down to four points, 11-15. Back-to-back attack errors from the Trojans left allowed the Rams to cut their deficit down to two points, 18-20, but the Rams would get no closer, falling 20-25.
The fourth set saw a resurgence by the Rams. WSSU took control early, jumping out to take a 14-7 lead. The effort came after a five-point run by the team that included a pair of kills from sophomore middle blocker Alexis Gregson-Hammond. The Rams continued to push their advantage when three straight Virginia State errors gave the Rams a 23-15 lead, their largest of the match. However, the Rams would close the set after a VSU service error and a Greene kill.
The dramatic effort set the stage for the final set of the match. The final set was exciting as the two teams played to a 5-5 tie before WSSU went on a 9-2 run to take control of the set, 14-7. The run included solo blocks from Greene and Cobb as well as kills from Jackson and Greene. Virginia State staged a late rally with three straight points, but the Rams closed the set and the match when Gregson-Hammond hit a kill.
With the win, the Rams improve to 7-10 overall and 6-0 in CIAA play. The team will return to action, Thursday when they head to Raleigh, N.C. to take on the Shaw Lady Bears. For more information on Rams volleyball, contact the WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations at (336) 750-2143 or log on to www.WSSURams.com.