PRINCESS ANNE, MD - Paced by 16 service aces, UMES took down Hampton in four sets (27-25, 25-15, 25-27, 25-16) to earn sole possession of first place in the MEAC Northern Division. The Hawks improve to 4-0 in the MEAC and 18-4 overall, while Hampton falls to 3-1 in-conference and 12-11 this season.
UMES improved its Division I-leading current home-winning streak to 26 matches, plus increased its conference winning-streak to 16.
Ndidi Ibe (North Richland Hills, Texas) had a strong early start, earning two kills and an ace as the Hawks took an early 8-5 lead in the first game. Kills by three different players brought Hampton back to within one at 9-8. UMES rebuilt its lead, going up by three after a Saitaua Iosia (Long Beach, Calif.) kill to go up 15-12. But Hampton struck back and took a 19-17 advantage, with three intermittent kills by Vendula Strakova keeping the Pirates up 22-20. Two Iosia kills and a Corey Haynes (Falls Church, Va.) and Victoria Williams (Los Angeles, Calif.) combo block gave UMES a 23-22 lead, but a Krista Kraskura kill and UMES attack error forced the Hawks to face set point. But Iosia came up with a big kill and ace to push the Hawks ahead 25-24. A Strakova kill tied the set again at 25, but the Hawks pushed ahead with kills by Maline Vaitai (Salt Lake City, Utah) and then Haynes for a 27-25 set one win.
At 1-1 in set two, the Hawks went on a 4-0 run, capped by a kill and two blocks by Ibe, for a 5-1 advantage. Hampton pulled closer, taking four of the next six, finished by a kill and ace by Strakova, to put the score at 7-5. Ibe got the Hawks back up by four with a kill and ace. UMES maintained the lead, using a 3-0 run off a Vaitai kill, combo block by Ibe, Iosia and Jessie Vicic (Cambridge, Ontario, Canada) and a Hampton setting error, to build a 17-11 advantage. From that point on, UMES did not lose back-to-back points the rest of the game, with Iosia scoring four points off a block, two kills and an ace in the closing part of the set to guide UMES to a 25-15 game victory and 2-0 lead in the match.
An Ibe kill and Williams ace gave UMES an early 2-0 lead, with the score going to 4-2 to begin the third set. Hampton took three straight to go up 5-4, later going up 7-5 on a Sonja Maksimovic kill and ace. The Pirates pushed the advantage to 9-6 on a Bibiany Fonseca dump kill and block. At 11-8 Hampton, UMES won three in a row to tie it up. A point later, a Hampton service error followed by consecutive kills by Iosia and Williams gave UMES a 14-12 lead. Play went back and forth as the two sides kept siding out. But at 19-17 UMES, Hampton went on a 4-0 run, including two Kraskura kills, gave the visiting team a 21-19 lead. After a timeout, UMES won the next two off kills from Vaitai and Williams. Hampton retook the lead on a Petra Parros kill. Iosia got hot again with a kill and an ace to give UMES set point at 24-23. But Hampton defended the point and then another UMES set point, ending the set on a 3-0 run to swipe the game from the Hawks 27-25 and pull within one game in the match.
Again Ibe came out strong in the opening of a set, scoring three straight points off a kill and two aces to push UMES ahead 3-1. After the Pirates tied the set at 5-5, a 3-0 UMES run, capped by an Ibe kill and solo block, put the Hawks ahead 8-5. After two Hampton points, UMES capitalized on Hampton errors off the serving of Williams for a 5-0 run to go up 13-7. UMES did not look back from there; at 16-11 Hawks, UMES took the next four points, finishing that run on three straight Iosia kills. The Hawks held off a late Hampton comeback to take the set 25-16 and win the match 3-1 over Hampton to secure first place in the MEAC North.
UMES hit .331 as a team, finishing with 16 aces and 10.5 blocks. In addition, the Hawks are 14-0 against Hampton under Don Metil's tenure.
Iosia led the Hawks with 18 kills, adding six aces and a pair of blocks. Ibe had another strong day, hitting .542 with 14 kills, a career-high seven aces and five blocks, just one block away from tying Kaveinga Lea'Aetoa's all-time UMES blocks record of 204. Nearly getting a double double was Vaitai, who earned 16 kills and eight digs, as did Vicic, who had 56 assists and nine digs.
Strakova finished with a Hampton-high 17 kills, also contributing six digs and two aces. Kraskura concluded with 14 kills and six digs, while Fonseca had 41 assists, six digs and four blocks.
The Hawks will conclude the weekend with a Sunday match against Norfolk State at 3 p.m. in the Hytche Athletic Center.