SALEM, Va. – The 2018 season has been unlike any other and on Saturday night that held to be true as the No. 1 seeded Shaw University women's volleyball team claimed the 2018 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) with a 4-1 (17-25, 25-19, 25-19, 28-26) victory over No. 1 seeded Virginia State University at the Salem Civic Center to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Senior rightside hitter Keveesha Wattley (St. Croix, US Virgin Islands) led the offensive attack with 16 kills and five blocks while senior middle hitter Saraya Klink (Fuquay-Varina, NC) finished with 12 kills, four blocks and three service aces. Senior setter Michelle Olmeda-Gonzalez (San Juan, Puerto Rico) dished out 42 assists and six digs while senior libero Kelly Murphy (Mukwonago, WI) finished with 14 digs in the winning effort.
The teams went back and forth in the first set, both suffering from a number of service errors throughout. The Trojans settled into pace first after tying with the Lady Bears 7-7, VSU then went on a five-point scoring streak by capitalizing on Shaw's errors. The Lady Bears (23-8) tried to slow the pace but the Trojan's continued to chip away and eventually swelled the score margin to 18-11.Five out of six of the Trojan's final points were ignited by the Lady Bears' dismay and the match was awarded to VSU, 25-17.
In a heated second set with a scoring margin of 12-10, the two teams entered a heated rally that was capped off by a kill by senior rightside hitter Jazmin Johnson-McCoy (Seattle, WA). Leaving the Trojans stunned, Wattley rounded out the set with two kills and a block for Shaw's first victory of the night, 25-19.
The Lady Bears continued their momentum in the third set as the team tacked on points four at a time. At 21-14 Shaw went on a run while the Trojans scrambled to take control and find a consistent rhythm. A kill which landed out the back side of the baseline gave the ball back to VSU just in time to hold the Lady Bears off from match point. Junior outside hitter Tyler Hunter (Atlanta, GA) took matters in to her own hands with a kill from the outside to seal the deal, 25-19.
The Trojans wouldn't let the Lady Bears take the crown without a fight and stayed close throughout the entire fourth set. After several lead changes, VSU established themselves for a series until committing several errors turned the lead over to the Lady Bears. As Shaw came up on the match point, VSU took a quick set, finding hole in between Shaw players. Tied at 25 and 26, the Trojans couldn't hang on long enough and fell by two set points, 28-26.
The Lady Bears finished the evening with 54 kills, 33 digs, and 8 blocks while the Trojans went for 52 kills, 27 digs, and 7 blocks. Wattley was named the 2018-CIAA Tournament MVP.
Klink, Sosa and Olmeda-Gonzalez were also selected to All-CIAA Tournament Team.
With the conference championship victory, the Shaw Bears earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Tournament. Tune in to the NCAA's selection show on November 11, 2018 for official details. Selection show information can be found at NCAA.com or on the NCAA's Twitter.
For the most up-to-date information on Shaw women's volleyball and its 13 varsity sport teams, visit www.shawbears.com.