Hornets Down Defending MEAC Champs in Semifinals

DOVER, Del., – There will be a new Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) volleyball champion in 2022.


Delaware State ousted defending champion Howard 3-1 (25-18, 25-15, 23-25, 25-12) in the semifinals of the 2022 MEAC Volleyball Championship in Memorial Hall Gym. The Hornets advanced to the championship match for the second straight season and are in search of their first MEAC volleyball title since 1986.


The Hornets (23-6) will face top seed Coppin State at 8:30 p.m., live on ESPNU.


First Team All-MEAC honoree Alondra Maldonado led the Hornets with 19 kills and a career-high six block assists, hitting .654 for the match. Sydney Lewis and Karen Cordero, both Second Team honorees, added 10 kills each. Malgorazata Andersohn recorded 34 assists, and Jasmal Cruz led the defense with 20 digs.


Delaware State hit .353 for the match and held a 9-5 edge in team blocks.


Buoyed by a raucous near-capacity crowd, the Hornets took control almost immediately, leading 15-9 after a Howard attack error. The Bison couldn’t gain much ground throughout the set, and Delaware State used a 13-9 effort to close out the first set and deliver the first salvo of an intense semifinal.


Set two was more of the same, with Delaware State leading 12-7 to open proceedings. That lead ballooned to 15-9 on a Cruz service ace, and when Howard committed another attack error in the later stages of the set, the Hornets led 24-13.


The Bison scored the next two points, but Maldonado slammed a kill to give the Hornets a 2-0 lead.


But Howard, having won six of the last seven MEAC volleyball titles, bounced back. Back-to-back kills from Rya McKinnon put the Bison up 11-6, and another kill from her later in the set put the lead at 16-12.


The Hornets answered with an 8-3 run, taking a 20-19 lead on a kill from Cordero. In fact, the Hornets led 23-22 and appeared poised to sweep – before the Bison rattled off the next three points to take the set 25-23 and force a fourth set.


The Hornets grabbed momentum back almost immediately, going up 5-2 in the fourth set on a Cruz ace. The set-opening run eventually grew to 13-8 following a block from Maldonado and Kelsie Dawson, and those two paired on another block later in the set to grow the lead to 18-9.


From there, the Bison couldn’t muster any forward momentum, and when Lewis found the floor on match point, it set off a raucous celebration that saw the entire Hornets bench spill out onto the floor.


McKinnon, the MEAC Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, led the Bison (20-10) with 22 kills and 14 digs.

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