PETERSBURG, VA – For the second time in three seasons, the Winston-Salem State Rams (22-7) are the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Volleyball Champions after the team took a three-set win over the Shaw Lady Bears (27-5), Sunday afternoon at the Multipurpose Center on the campus of Virginia State University. The Rams out on a stellar performance to claim the championship, edging out the Lady Bears, 26-24, 25-23, and 25-23.
The Rams took the win by combining a strong offensive performance with a tremendous defensive effort. As a team, the Rams totaled 43 kills in the match while holding Shaw to just 37 kills and forcing 22 Lady Bear errors. The Rams also had a great defensive game with 46 digs and 11 blocks (three solo) in the match. WSSU senior outside hitter Jasmine Smith led the way for the Rams with 19 kills in the match while fellow senior outside hitter Sydney Holland added her second double-double of the tournament with 12 kills and 11 digs. Sophomore libero Makala Lytton added 13 digs.
In a style befitting a championship match, the Rams and the Lady Bears opened the match with a hard-fought opening set. The Rams struggled early, falling behind, 1-6. However, the Rams were able to work their way back into the set with an 11-6 run to tie the set, 12-12. The Rams soon found themselves trailing, 15-20 before the team exploded for a 9-4 run to tie the set, 24-24. The Rams soon closed out the set with a Smith kill and a Shaw attack error capped the 26-24 WSSU win.
The second set was another hard-fought set. The Rams opened the set with a 5-1 rally before Shaw tied the set 12-12. Later in the set, the Rams would regain control 21-18 before a late Shaw rally tied the set 23-23. The Rams would answer once again with a Smith kill and a block from freshman middle hitter Alexis Gregson-Hammond ended the set, 25-23.
With the championship within reach, the Rams would not allow opportunity to slip through their hands. The two teams once again played a close set that stood tied 14-14 before Shaw took a late 21-20 lead. From there, the Rams tied the set, once again 23-23 before kill from Gregson-Hammond that was followed by a block by Gregson-Hammond and junior right side hitter Mia Herrod.
With the three-set win, the Rams claim the 2017 CIAA Volleyball Championship, the second in school history. Even more impressive was the fact that the Rams didn't lose a set during their entire tournament run.
After leading the Rams to the conference title, four Rams were named to the 2017 CIAA Volleyball Championship All-Tournament team. Holland, Smith, Herrod, and junior middle blocker Christa Brown were all honored with spots on the team. Holland was named the CIAA Volleyball Championship Tournament MVP.
The Rams will now await selection to the 2017 NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Tournament. The selections will be announced on www.NCAA.com at 7:30 p.m., tomorrow. 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.