Victoria Williams hit .600 in the match with a career-high 23 kills.

Nov. 17, 2012

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BALTIMORE - Battling back from down two sets, UMES survived a five-setter against Hampton (15-25, 24-26, 25-20, 25-19, 15-13), helped by a career-high 23 kills by Victoria Williams and 21 by Saitaua Iosia, to return to the MEAC Championship match tomorrow at noon. UMES improves to 27-5, while Hampton ends their season at 19-14.

UMES advances to the MEAC title match for the second year in a row and fifth time in six years under Don Metil's tenure. The Hawks will be defending their MEAC title for the first time in school history.

"It is exciting for us to be back," says head coach Metil, "The amount of adversity we have gone through this year, the team fought back through those situations, and we are ecstatic to be here."

Both sides started the first set by exchanging kills, with UMES leading early 6-5 off a couple of kills from Williams (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Iosia (Long Beach, Calif.). After a game-tying kill from Vendula Strakova, Sheileen Pagan served Hampton through a 5-0 run to give the Pirates a 10-6 lead. Helped by two Ndidi Ibe (North Richland Hills, Texas) kills and a Megan Mueller (Manchester, Mo.) service ace, UMES got back to within one 12-11. But Hampton took control from there, winning nine of the next ten points to build a 21-12 advantage. The Pirates took set one 25-15.

The second set started similarly to the previous one, with UMES using a Strakova service error and Ibe ace to go ahead 6-4. At 8-7, an Iosia kill started a long run for UMES on her serving. A pair of aces, three Hampton attack errors and a Maline Vaitai (Salt Lake City, Utah) kill put together a 7-0 run, putting UMES up 15-7. Hampton got back into the set with a 5-0 run to pull within three 16-13. UMES went back and forth with Hampton, using kills from Iosia and Williams to stay ahead and set up set point 24-20. But the Pirates put together four straight kills to tie the game. Following a UMES attack error, Strakova earned another kill to complete a 6-0 run as Hampton took the second set away from UMES 26-24 to go up 2-0 in the match.

Being down two sets did not worry the Hawks. "We had been here before," says Iosia, "We knew the gameplan and we just got in the situation where we knew what to do."

After a Strakova block to open the third set, a Williams kill and two straight Ibe kills pushed UMES up 3-1. The Pirates evened the set at four as the two sides traded points to 9-9. Hampton took the next two off a kill and block by Strakova to lead 11-9. At 14-12 Hampton, UMES took the lead on a 3-0 run, sandwiched by an Iosia kill and ace, to go up 15-14, but the score was tied again later at 17-17 following a Williams kill. After a UMES timeout, Mueller served five straight times before a Hampton timeout following five Pirates errors to give the Hawks a 22-17 advantage. UMES held on to win the game 25-20 and pull within one set 2-1.

A pair of Williams kept UMES in pace with Hampton in set four, but the Pirates started up 6-3 after Marija Kocevska and Bibiany Fonesca combo block. Kills by Iosia and Jessie Vicic (Cambridge, Ontario, Canada) pulled UMES within one 6-5. At 8-6 Hampton, Iosia earned a kill and went back to serve. Following a Stratoka attack error, a Vaitai kill then a Williams kill pushed the Hawks ahead 10-8. Quick Hampton kills by Mariah Baylor and Strakova tied it up again at 10. After Williams earned another kill to give UMES back the lead, Corey Haynes (Falls Church, Va.) served UMES through a 4-0 run to give UMES a 14-10 advantage. After Hampton pulled to within one 15-14, kills by Vaitai and Iosia rebuilt the lead to three. Again the Pirates pulled to within one at 18-17, but a 3-0 run off an Iosia kill and later a Williams kill and block pushed UMES up 21-17. Iosia helped seal the set with a personal 3-0 run on two kills and an ace as the Hawks won 25-19 and forced a fifth set tiebreak.

UMES got off to a fast start in the fifth set, starting with an Iosia kill, Haynes and Williams combo block, and Williams kill to begin 3-0. But Hampton countered with its own 3-0 run, capped by two Strakova kills, to tie up the set. In response, Williams earned another kill, then the UMES front row blocked two Hampton attacks in a row to go back up 6-3. After Hampton got back to within one, a Vaitai kill sparked a 3-0 run, capped by a block and kill from Ibe, to push UMES up 10-6. After a UMES attack error, Elli Steiner (Hallwang, Austria) earned the biggest kill of her Hawks career on a back row attack for an 11-7 lead. Going back and forth with Hampton, including a knock down kill by Haynes, UMES led 14-11 with match point. Hampton tried to come back after a Strakova kill and Kocevska block, but Williams's 23rd kill sealed the tiebreaker set for UMES 15-13, giving the Hawks the comeback victory.

The Hawks are now a perfect 7-0 in five-set matches this season, three times coming back from down two sets to win the match.

Williams finished with a career-high 23 kills, hitting .600 in the match with just two attack errors, adding three blocks

"[Victoria] stepped by big when we needed her today," says team captain Vaitai, "she was unstoppable, and that is what we needed."

Iosia earned a double double with 21 kills and 15 digs, also getting a match-high four service aces. Vicic tallied a career-high 63 assists, also earning five digs and two blocks. Ibe led the Hawks with four blocks, adding 14 kills, while Vaitai had nine kills and four digs.

Leading Hampton with 26 kills was Strakova, hitting .346 with six digs and four blocks. Sonja Maksimovic had 11 kills and three blocks, while Krista Kraskura hit .444 with eight kills and eight digs.

UMES will take on the winner of Florida A&M-Norfolk State for the conference championship at the Physical Education Complex in Baltimore on Sunday at noon.



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