ORANGEBURG, SC (November 4, 2021) – The Claflin Lady Panthers (13-9, 10-5 CIAA) put on a great show, Thursday evening when the team took a four-set win over the Winston-Salem State Rams (9-15, 8-7 CIAA). The Lady Panthers combined a stellar service attack along with some strong defense to claim the key Central intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) victory, 24-26, 25-12, 25-23, and 25-11.
The Lady Panthers combined a terrific offense with their defense to claim the win. The Lady Panthers put on a season-high 12 service aces to claim the win. The Lady Panthers totaled 46 kills in the match while forcing 32 attack errors in the match. It was sophomore outside hitter Danielle Branch who led the way for the Lady Panthers with 10 kills, six service aces, and six digs in the match. Junior outside hitter Simone Newell added a match-high 12 kills with 17 digs as well. Defensively, senior libero Ayanna Harrison added 28 digs while senior middle hitter Makaylan Crosby and freshman middle hitter Tanaja Robinson both totaled four blocks each (none solo).
The match was an even one in the beginning, but once the Lady Panthers got things going, the team never looked back as they pulled away for the hard-fought win. The opening set was the most competitive set of the night with neither team wanting to give in. The Lady Panthers were able to take an 11-7 lead over the Rams, but that was the largest lead of the set for either team. The Lady Panthers would play to a 24-23 lead, but the team allowed three unanswered points to the Rams to fall, 24-26.
In the second set, the Lady Panthers made sure there was no drama as the team jumped out to an early lead and then pulled away late for the dominant victory. The Lady Panthers opened the set with an 11-6 run to take the lead. The effort wasn’t their most dominant run of the set, however. After taking a 14-11 lead, the Lady Panthers went on to close the set with a 12-1 run that sealed the 25-12 second set victory.
In the third set, the Lady Panthers had to bounce back from a slow start and hold off a strong WSSU rally to claim the win. Things looked rough at the beginning with the Lady Panthers allowing the Rams to jump out to an 11-5 lead, but the Lady Panthers stormed back in a big way. The Lady Panthers went on an 8-2 run to tie the set, 13-13. After playing to a 16-17 score, the Lady Panthers broke the set open with a 9-2 run to go ahead, 24-18. However, the Rams would not go away easily as the Lady Panthers allowed five unanswered points to the Rams to allow their lead to be cut down to one point, 24-23. However, senior middle hitter Sadaiya Edouard would not let the set slip away as her kill sealed the 25-25 set win.
There was much less drama in the final set as the Lady Panthers pulled away for their most dominant performance of the match. The performance began when the two teams played to a 4-4 tie to open the set. However, the Lady Panthers went on a 9-2 run to take the 13-6 lead and never looked back. After a WSSU block, the Lady Panthers broke out for a 10-1 rally that included back-to-back service aces. The effort left the Lady Panthers with a 23-8 lead. After allowing back-to-back scores by the Rams, the Lady Panthers benefitted from another WSSU attack error to go ahead, 24-10. After a final kill from the Rams, senior Makaylan Crosby ended the match with a kill that sealed he 25-11 set win and the four-set match victory.
With the win, the Lady Panthers improve to 13-9 overall and 10-5 in CIAA play. The win also improves the team to 7-2 in the CIAA Southern Division. The Lady Panthers will wrap up the 2021 regular season, Monday when the team heads to Salisbury, North Carolina to take on the Livingstone College Blue Bears.