WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The Winston-Salem State Rams (13-4) put on a defensive showcase to claim a four-set win over the Belmont Abbey Crusaders (8-7), Tuesday evening. The Rams turned in a great offensive performance, but it was the team's defense that stole the show in the 25-23, 25-19, 22-25, and 25-23 win.
As a team, the Rams added some solid offense to accompany a strong defensive effort. The Rams totaled 53 kills in the match, but the highlight of the match was the Rams' 20 total blocks (two solo). Senior outside hitter Jasmine Smith led the Rams' attack with 12 kills while the duo of junior outside hitter Mia Herrod and junior middle blocker Christa Brown both added 11 kills as well. Herrod was joined by fellow sophomore middle blocker Brycelin Spidel both turned in five total blocks (none solo) in the match while Brown added five total blocks (one solo). Sophomore libero added 18 digs while senior outside hitter added 15 digs.
The Rams took the first two sets in impressive fashion as they took big leads and fended off rallies from the Crusaders to claim the wins. The Rams opened the first set on fire, jumping out to a 6-1 lead. The Rams would push their efforts to as many as seven points, 11-7ad a Holland kill. The Crusaders would get back into the set with a four-point run that cut the WSSU lead down to one point, 17-16. However, the Rams stayed in control with a 6-4 run that kept the team on top, 23-20. Belmont Abbey would score three straight points tie the set, 23-23, but the Rams would not relent when a Belmont Abbey service error was followed by a Smith kill that sealed the 25-23 set win for the Rams.
The second set was the most impressive for the Ram when the team overcame an early deficit to record their largest set win of the match. The Rams opened the set on a down note, falling behind, 4-11. However, it was when the team fell behind, 12-17 that the Rams really showed what they had with 14-2 rally that claimed the win. The rally included a pair of blocks from Brown and three kills from Smith. In the end, the Rams finished the set with a 25-19 win and a two-set lead in the match.
The third set belonged to the Crusaders, but the Rams showed a lot of fight in the set. Once again, Belmont Abbey had a strong start to the set and left the Rams trailing, 6-11. After falling behind, 17-22, the Rams mad a strong effort to rally with a 6-1 run that gave the team a one-point deficit, 22-23. However Belmont Abbey would close out the set with a kill and a WSSU attack error.
After faltering in the third set, the Rams would not allow their match win to slip away. This time, the match was closely played with the Rams and Crusaders playing to a close 9-7 WSSU lead. The Rams would go ahead with a four-point rally that included a kill and a block assist from Spidel and left the Rams on top, 13-8. The Rams would stage another late rally with four straight points once again. This time it was another block assist from Brown and Herrod that keyed the rally and left the Rams on top, 18-11. The Rams would face a challenge from the Crusaders with five straight BAC points that cut the WSSU lead down to just one point, 18-17. The two teams would continue their battle, playing to a 23-23 tie before Smith notched back-to-back kills to seal the 25-23 win.
With the win, the Rams improve to 13-4 overall. The team will return to action, Thursday when they head to nearby Salisbury, N.C. to take on the Livingstone Blue Bears in a 6:00 p.m. match at New Trent Gymnasium.
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.