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VSU is All Aces Against Rival VUU
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Oct 11, 2012, 13:08

Virginia State University seniors Jasmine Davis (3) and Nikkisha Walker (5) contest a hit from Virginia Union sophomore Kristin Madison on Monday at Daniel Gymnasium (photo by Jacob Vaughan).


ETTRICK – Good service is hard to find.

With that in mind, Virginia State University volleyball coach Ivana Rich supplied the Lady Trojans with some additional motivation on the eve of the team’s 3-0 (25-20, 25-9, 25-12) victory over arch rival Virginia Union on Monday.

The second-year coach simulated the pressure of a match by raising the stakes in practice on Sunday. Each wayward serve drew a punishment of five up-downs.

“Yesterday we did 65 up-downs as a team,” Rich said.

The Lady Trojans were mostly up on Monday at Daniel Gymnasium – they never trailed in the second or third sets – and they had their well-polished serves to thank.

Paced by sophomore Whitley Bradley, VSU held a 16-2 edge in service aces.

“The serving was amazing,” Rich said. “It paid off.”

With the CIAA win, VSU completed a season sweep of VUU and exacted a measure of revenge for two losses to the Lady Panthers in 2011.

“It’s a rivalry,” Rich said. “They got us twice last year, at home and away. This year, we got them back twice, so it was definitely a high-stakes game. But we were pretty comfortable.”

The first set opened in see-saw style. The two teams were tied at every opportunity between points one and five, but the drama proved to be short-lived.

Bradley – whose night’s work consisted of 12 digs, nine kills and six aces – helped the Lady Trojans break the pattern with consistent play on both sides of the ball.

“All around, she is stellar for us,” Rich said of Bradley. “She is very dependable; she’s kind of like our spark plug.”

VSU carried the momentum into the second game, surging to a 3-0 lead. A kill from sophomore Kristin Madison pulled the Lady Panthers to within one at 4-3, but the Lady Trojans responded with a 13-2 run to close the set and claim a 2-0 lead.

The spurt was spurred by a collective effort from the home team. Bradley, Aubree Parker, Brianna Small, Nikkisha Walker and Jasmine Hill all registered kills in the burst while Jasmine Davis chipped in with a pair of blocks.

While Game 2 was a demonstration of the depth on the VSU roster, the third set was evidence that Parker can carry the team when needed.

VUU could find no answer for the 5-11 freshman, who tallied five of her match-high 11 kills in the third to lead the home team to a 25-12 triumph that sealed the victory.

Rich said Parker’s left-handed preference makes her especially hard to defend at the net.

“She gets a lot of open kills that most right-handed people can’t get,” Rich said.

The win moves the Lady Trojans to 9-8 on the season, 8-2 in conference play and 3-1 in the Northern Division. Rich said the team’s goal is to bring the CIAA championship to Ettrick for the first time in school history.

“I just want to continue to improve and move forward,” Rich said. “We don’t want any more losses on our record.”

The road to the title would likely pit VSU against unbeaten Fayetteville State, which edged VSU in a five-set thriller earlier this season. Next on VSU’s schedule, however, is a home game with Elizabeth City State University on Thursday.

The Lady Trojans put an end to a lengthy losing streak against the Lady Vikings with a win at home last year but lost in the same fixture on the road. ECSU and VSU are currently ranked second and third in the division, respectively.

“This next game is definitely one that we’re taking very personal,” Rich said.

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