ETTRICK, VA (November 16, 2021) – The Claflin Lady Panthers (15-9) shocked the world, Tuesday evening when the team took a five-set road win over the Virginia State Trojans (15-10) in the quarterfinal round of the 2021 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Volleyball Championship Tournament. The fifth-seeded Lady Panthers took a dramatic 25-19, 25-16, 23-25, 21-25, and 15-10 win over the fourth-seeded Trojans to advance to the semifinal round of the tournament.
As usual, the Lady Panthers took the win behind a balanced offensive attack with their trademark stellar defense to claim the road victory. As a team, the Lady Panthers totaled 57 digs with nine total blocks (three solo) to claim the win. It was second-team All-CIAA right side hitter Mya Broom who led the way for the Lady Panthers with a team-high nine kills in the match. Senior middle hitter Sadaiya Edouard and junior utility Simone Newell both each added six kills each. The always versatile Newell also added 12 digs. Senior libero Ayanna Harrison led the Lady Panthers with 14 digs in the match.
The Lady Panthers opened the match in dominating fashion, claiming wins in the first two sets in dominating fashion. In the first set, the team took control of the set early and never looked back. The Lady Panthers jumped out to a 7-2 lead that the team never let go until they finished with the win. A three-point rally near the end of the set when the Lady Panthers held a 24-16 lead was as close as the Lady Panthers allowed the Trojans to get before a VSU service error sealed the 25-19 win for the Lady Panthers. The second set saw an even more dominant performance for the Lady Panthers. This time, the Lady Panthers found a tougher challenge early with the two teams playing to a 13-13 tie before the Lady Panthers broke out for a 12-3 run the closed the set on a kill from senior right side Makaylen Crosby. The effort left the team with a 25-16 win and a two-set lead.
The next two sets proved to more of a challenge for the Lady Panthers as the team took back-to-back losses. The third set was the most dramatic set of the night with both teams trading strong rallies. After falling into a 6-11 deficit, the Lady Panthers staged a four-point rally to 10-11. The Lady Panthers would tie the set 23-23, but the team allowed back-to-back kills by the Trojans to end with the loss. In the fourth set, it was the Lady Panthers who had to stage the late comeback after falling behind, 11-17. The team would score five unanswered points to cut their deficit to just one point, 16-17 after a kill from Broom. However, the team would never get any closer and finished the set with a 21-25 loss and went into the fifth and final set.
With the set score tied, 2-2, the Lady Panthers would not let their victory slip away as they claimed a dramatic victory in the fifth set. The team took control of the set early with a 6-1 start that was capped by a block by Edouard and Broom. The team went on to go ahead by as many as six points, 12-6 before allowing a 4-1 run by the Trojans, but the team held on to the 13-10 lead. A kill from junior Erin Preston that was followed by a final Broom kill ended the set, 15-10 and sent the Lady Panthers to the semifinal round of the 2021 CIAA Volleyball Championship Tournament.
With the win, the Lady Panthers improve to 15-9 and advances to the semifinal round of the CIAA Volleyball Championship Tournament for the first time in school history. The Lady Panthers will take on the top-seeded Shaw Lady Bears in a 7:30 p.m. match at A.C. Jordan Arena on the campus of Bowie State University.