West Virginia

Volleyball’s 2022 Season Comes to an End

CHARLESTON, SC- The North Carolina A&T volleyball team proved they belong to one of the country’s top conferences, the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).

The Aggies season ended in disappointment with a three-set loss to the College of Charleston (25-18, 23, 21) at TD Arena on Sunday. Still, the Aggies proved competitive against the top CAA teams, dismal in five-set matches, and many of their players were among the best in statistical categories.

Those things won’t translate into a post-season appearance, however. The Aggies finish the season 9-17 overall and 5-11 in the CAA. The Stony Brook Seawolves also finished 5-11 in the CAA, recovering from a 2-0 deficit at Elon and winning in five sets on Sunday.

The Seawolves tied with the Aggies in eighth place overall in a tie, but the two teams did not play each other in 2022, prompting a shared opposing tiebreak scenario that was down to the team with the best record against the top-ranked team in the ranking.

In this scenario, the tiebreak fell to third-place finisher Elon Phoenix. Stony Brook went 1-1 against Elon. The Aggies went 0-2 which resulted in the Seawolves being promoted to next week’s CAA tournament.

“It was definitely not the result we wanted today,” said the head coach Hal Clifton said. “Even though the sets were tight, we just couldn’t get any further. We played really good volleyball this weekend and I’m proud of how well our ladies fought. Being in the CAA this season has been a big challenge proud of how our young ladies have competed throughout the season and how they have represented our program and North Carolina A&T.”

Senior Setters Addy Warfield recorded a double-double with 12 assists and 12 digs in her last collegiate match. She finishes her career with 1,582 assists, the sixth-best in program history. She also landed in the top 10 all-time in digs with 686. Sophomore Naiya Sawtelle also had a double-double with 16 kills and 10 digs and will have 18 career double-doubles ahead of her junior season in 2023.

Before 2023 came around, the Aggies were attempting to qualify for their ninth straight conference tournament. But they opened Sunday’s game 15-9 down in the first set. They fought back to make it a 21-17 set, but the Cougars scored three straight goals, powered by two Lexi Wierzbicki, to reach the set point at 24-18. After a Chiara Naples Kill, Wierzbicki finished the job with a kill to give Charleston a 1-0 lead.

Charleston hit the target in the second set with an ace of serve from Chandler Manusky to make it 24-19. But the Aggies capitalized on a 4-0 run highlighted by two kills from Sawtelle and Napoli Maya Johnson teamed up for a block support to reduce the lead to one. After a Charleston timeout, Gabi Bailey ended the set with a kill.

The Aggies mounted another late rally in the third set, scoring four straight goals, highlighted by a Mallory Porcher Kill who made it 24-21. But it was Logan Pope’s turn to end a set with a kill for the Cougars as they finished the sweep.

Bailey led the Cougars with 13 kills. Mallory Porcher and Nadia Montalban-El-Hiriche also played in their last few collegiate games. Porcher will finish her career with 210 block assists, the seventh-best in program history.

“We will miss our seniors and our graduate student,” Clifton said. “Mal, Addy and Nadia have been a huge part of our growth during their careers here. You have helped take our program to new heights. We will continue to build and grow. I’m grateful I had the chance to coach her and be a part of her life. You are all three excellent people and great representatives of our university and our program.”

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