NORFOLK, Va. – Just when it seemed all hope was lost for Morgan State, the Bears pulled off the improbable on Sunday. And for the second match in a row, an opponent came into Gill Gymnasium and stole one from the Norfolk State volleyball team.
The Spartans, up 2-1 in the match, let a late lead slip away in the fourth set, and MSU again overcame a deficit late in the fifth set for a 3-2 victory over NSU on Sunday afternoon in a conference matchup.
The final three sets proved to be nail biters after each team dominated early on. The Bears had complete control in the first set, winning 25-18. NSU came back with a vengeance in set 2, earning a 25-16 victory. The Spartans held on late to win the third set, 26-24, and NSU looked ready to take the match with a late four-point lead in set 4.
The Bears had other ideas, though, winning six straight points before earning a 27-25 win to tie the match at 2-2. Then in the fifth, the Spartans had three different chances to put the contest away, but MSU answered each time and finally won, 18-16.
Coupled with Friday’s loss to Coppin State, the setback to Morgan State put NSU in a precarious situation in the MEAC Northern Division standings. The Spartans fell to 4-4 in conference play, just a half game ahead of fifth place Hampton, and 6-15 overall.
Third-place Morgan State improved to 5-18 overall and 5-3 in conference play after sweeping NSU in the two regular season meetings.
NSU lost despite committing 11 less attack errors than the Bears. But for the second match in a row, the Spartans struggled at the service line, committing 17 errors to just seven for MSU.
Morgan State got a big match from Keana Browne, who exposed the middle of the court to the tune of 21 kills to go along with six blocks.
NSU fell despite a career-high tying 22 kills from senior Jessica Johnson. She also completed the double-double with 10 digs, although MSU held a sizeable edge in digs for the match, 79-64.
The Spartans were getting closer and closer to victory in the fourth set after a nice rally in the third to jump ahead 2-1 in the match. In that fourth stanza, NSU won the first five points and eight of the first 10. A 7-3 run extended the lead to seven, and the Spartans still lead by five at 21-16 after a kill from sophomore Lexi Brown. But a back-breaking 6-0 run, which included three kills from Browne, put MSU up by one.
The Spartans held off set serve three times, but an error on NSU and a kill from Haley McClure kept the match alive for the Bears.
Norfolk State shook it off to lead 8-5 in the fifth set when the teams switched sides on the court. The other side worked well for the Bears, who won five of the next seven to force a 10-10 tie. A block by Brown and junior Clarke Tyler forced an MSU timeout with the Spartan lead at 13-11. After Tyler’s kill made it 14-12, they could not take advantage of three chances to put the match away.
Senior Dominique Parker kept NSU alive at 16-16, but Browne again asserted herself with two more kills to close out the win.
Morgan State also started the match on fire, turning an 8-8 tie into a 23-13 lead thanks to a 15-5 run. NSU got going late in the set, and it carried over to the second. The Spartans won five of the first six points, and Johnson’s kill a little later began an 8-0 run that got the advantage to double digits. The Bears were never able to cut into the lead much until finishing the set down by nine.
Norfolk State needed to turn it around in the third set after falling behind by an 11-9 margin. After a timeout, NSU clawed back and went ahead 16-15 on a kill by Parker. The Spartans called timeout again down by two and then immediately won five of the next six points.
A kill by Parker and a service ace from junior Tori Tulensru helped NSU take a 24-21 lead. After Morgan State won three straight, another kill from Tyler and an error on Browne gave the Spartans a 2-1 advantage in the match.
Parker finished with 13 kills. Junior Melvina Brown led NSU with 18 digs, one of four players in double figures for the Spartans.
Natashia Barker posted 13 kills and 20 digs for MSU. Milan Amos also tallied 20 digs in a winning effort.
The Bears hit .123 overall, while the Spartans finished with an attack percentage of .150. NSU had six less kills than MSU but committed 25 errors compared to 36 for the Bears.
NSU travels to the city of Richmond on Tuesday to face VCU beginning at 7 p.m.
Originally published at nsuspartans.com