PRINCESS ANNE, MD -- Maline Vaitai earned a spot in the 1,000-kill club plus Jessie Vicic is now the all-time leading assistant in University of Maryland Eastern Shore history as the Hawks took the three set match (25-10, 25-21, 25-17) over Howard on Senior Day. UMES locks up a spot in the MEAC Tournament, improving to 8-0 in conference play and 22-4 overall, while Howard goes to 0-7 in the MEAC and 0-19 this season.
Vicic (Cambridge, Ontario, Canada) tied Christina Estebané's all-time assists record with her seventh assist in the third set, setting up a Victoria Williams (Los Angeles, Calif.) kill for a 12-7 score. Her next assist came with Vaitai's (Salt Lake City, Utah) 999th career kill to push UMES up 14-10. Vaitai earned her next kill shortly thereafter for number 1,000, set up by Vicic, for a 15-12 UMES lead. Vicic now stands at 2,239 assists in her career, while Vaitai has 1,001 kills. Vaitai is one of three UMES players, along with Whitney Johnson and Caylin Woodward, to be in the 1,000-kill club in the 25-point era.
With the victory, UMES still holds the longest current home-winning streak in Division I with its 30th straight victory at the Hytche. The Hawks have also won the last 32 regular season matches against MEAC teams at the Hytche and have a 20-match regular season match winning streak.
At 1-1 in the first set, Williams served the Hawks through a 5-0 run, including two Vaitai kills, for a 6-1 lead. Howard got to within two at 7-5, but the Hawks rebuilt a lead with two more Vaitai kills for a 10-5 advantage. At 12-8, Saitaua Iosia (Long Beach, Calif.) started another run with a kill, later contributing an ace on a 4-0 run to push the Hawks up 16-8. UMES dominated the first set, winning six of the final seven points to win 25-10.
The second set was much closer as Howard used an early 3-0 run for a 4-3 lead. Iosia pounded the ball twice for a pair of kills, with a Williams kill following up to bring UMES ahead 6-4. Back and forth the teams went, as kept a small lead until the Bison won three in a row, started by an Assata Conway kill, to push the visitors up 13-12. At 16-15 Bison, a Destinee Harrison service error tied the set. Again Williams had strong serving, with Ibe helping with a block and two kills as UMES completed a 5-0 run for a 20-16 advantage. The Bison clawed back with three straight points, but UMES rebuilt the lead with three in a row in response, including an Iosia kill and Vaitai ace, to go up 23-19. At 23-21, Iosia earned a kill to set up set point, and Haynes finished the game with a kill to give UMES a 25-21 second set win and 2-0 match lead.
After Howard won the first two points in the third game, Williams began a three point run off a kill then a pair of serves. Howard retook the lead 4-3, then UMES took three in a row again off kills from Vicic, Iosia and Ibe in succession. At 9-7, the Hawks went on a 3-0 run yet again, starting with kills from Iosia and Vaitai. The next kill from Williams gave Vicic the school record-tying assist. At 13-10, Vaitai earned a kill being set up by Vicic record-breaking assist. Two straight Conway kills pulled the Bison within two, but the Hawks countered with Vaitai's 1,000th career kill, followed by a Meagan Lagerlef attack error and Ibe kill for a 17-12 advantage. Iosia contributed a block and a pair of kills to help push UMES up 22-14. The Hawks finished off the Bison on a Vaitai kill for a 25-17 game win, completing the shutout of Howard.
UMES hit .429 as a team, its highest hitting percentage in a match this season, with 49 kills and just 10 errors on 91 total attacks. The Hawks hit .500 in the first set and .520 in the third game.
Vaitai finished the match with 15 kills, hitting .429 with five digs and a pair of blocks. Vicic ended the night with 41 assists, three aces, five digs and a pair of dump kills. Iosia earned a double double with 14 kills and 10 digs, hitting .440 in the match. Williams hit .545 on seven kills, two aces and two digs, while Ibe had nine kills and three blocks.
Conway led the Bison with nine kills, four digs and an ace. Stephanie Shultis had a team-high 18 assists, adding four kills and digs, while Harrison had five kills with two blocks.
The Hawks will travel across the Bay Bridge next Friday to take on in-state rival Morgan State for a 7 p.m. match in Baltimore.