Rams Take a Hard-Fought Four-Set Loss to Belmont Abbey

WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The Winston-Salem State Rams (1-5) gave it their all, but the team faded late in a four-set loss to the Belmont Abbey Crusaders (1-0), Tuesday afternoon. The Rams gave a strong effort in the match in spite of a short turnaround from their previous match. However, the team ended the day with the tough 14-25, 25-20, 28-30, and 19-25 loss.

"It was a tough loss because I know were better than they were," WSSU head coach Kathy Bullock said. "After Wingate, I knew it would be hard without a break."

The Rams had a solid overall effort in the match. As a team, the Rams had an improved offensive effort with 43 total kills in the match. Junior outside hitter Ytae Cobb led the way with 17 kills in the match. Sophomore setter Brittany Carpenter added 34 assists while freshman libero Gabrielle Azar recorded 15 digs.

The effects of the team's previous match showed with the Rams' slow start in the opening set. The Rams allowed six unanswered points to the Crusaders to open the set. After falling behind, 4-11, the Rams made their biggest run of the set with three unanswered points of their own to cut their deficit down to as few as four points, 7-11. However, the team would never get any closer as the Crusaders pulled away for the set win. The Rams did make a late rally with three more unanswered points, including a Berry service. However, in the end, the Rams ended with the 25-14 set loss.

The second told a much different story as it was the Rams who were the ones to take control and to claim the set win. After playing to a 4-4 tie, the Rams took control of the set with a four-point run that included a pair of Cobb kills and a Berry service ace. The Rams' fatigue showed up with Belmont Abbey taking a brief, 9-8 lead. However, it was a little later that the Rams really took control of the set when the team mounted a 6-2 run that included a pair of Azar service aces. The effort left the Rams on top, 18-14. From there, the team continued to stay in control and cruised to the 25-20 set win and tied the match, 1-1.

The third set told the tale of the entire match with the Rams falling just short in the hard-fought set loss. After getting started with a slow start, the Rams battled their way back to a 13-13 tie with the Crusaders. After falling behind, 16-19, the Rams rallied with four straight points to take a 20-19 lead. The Rams extended the run and took a 23-20 lead over the Crusaders. However, Belmont Abbey then answered with a rally of their own to tie the set, 24-24. From there, the Rams would take a 28-27 lead after a kill from freshman Haley Tatu and a service ace from freshman Myra Wallace. The Rams then allowed three straight points to the Crusaders and took the tough 30-28 set less and fell behind two sets to one.

The fourth set saw the Rams run out of gas as the team showed some late fight, but could not overcome a slow start to take the tough loss.  The set was a competitive one with the two teams playing to a 13-13 tie before the Rams allowed the Crusaders to go ahead, 18-17. The Rams then suffered a critical drought with the team allowing a 6-1 run by the Crusaders to leave the Rams trailing 24-18. Cobb would add one more kill before a WSSU service error allowed the final match point to the Crusaders.

"We started out slow and we found our rhythm," Bullock added. "I knew if we lost the third set, we would struggle. We're not quite experienced enough to keep pushing, so were still working on some things."

With the loss, the Rams fall to 1-5. The team will return to action, Saturday morning when the team takes on the Wingate Bulldogs in a 10:30 a.m. match at the Queens (N.C.) Invitational. 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.