Early miscues were not enough to stop the Florida A&M University volleyball team from sweeping the Norfolk State Spartans 3-0 Sunday in the Al Lawson Center to go undefeated in the at home and in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Junior outside hitter Jovana Blazeski led the team with a game-high 18 kills. Junior setter Susan Egoavil led the team defensively with a game-high 16 digs.
The Spartans (8-21, 3-5 in the MEAC) caught the Rattlers off guard early and managed to keep the first close before taking their first lead, 24-23, late in the game. The Rattlers had to battle back to eventually win 28-26.
“We just need to push ourselves every time we go and play MEAC teams,” said senior outside hitter Maria Gomez. “Every time we play MEAC teams we just think, ‘Oh OK we’re just going to go play and win.'”
The Rattlers (14-8, 8-0 in the MEAC) will travel to Baltimore, Md., Friday to battle for the MEAC championship.
Head coach Tony Trifonov is a worried about his team’s attitude against their conference competitors, despite their undefeated record.
“In practice we’re ready and on the road, we play well,” Trifonov said. “Then for some reason we get home and… I don’t know. We’re still winning, they’re still 3-0 wins, but I don’t know, we struggle. A win is a win though.”
An undefeated record does not mean a flawless record as the Rattlers have struggled early on at home against MEAC opponents.
They consistently have to overcome early struggles to sweep their conference rivals.
“For the most part we’re just so relaxed,” said junior Chelsea Pennick. “[Trifonov] always tells us that we have to be prepared for any kind of ball though.”
Both Pennick and Gomez described the MEAC teams as not much of a challenge. Not taking MEAC teams seriously has lead to lapses in play.
Gomez is confident that there will be no mental lapses in Baltimore when the team plays for their ninth consecutive MEAC championship.
“When we get to Baltimore we’re going to bring it,” Gomez said.
Sunday was also the last time Gomez would play at home for Florida A&M.
The senior recorded 12 kills and two digs in her home finale and was saddened her home career at Florida A&M was over.
“I felt chills all over my body,” Gomez said. “I saw one of my teammates crying and I felt like, ‘Oh my God I’m about to cry, I’m about to cry, Oh God don’t cry.’ It’s really emotional.”
Gomez will be looking to close out her career with her fourth conference championship with the Rattlers.
The MEAC championships begin Friday at Coppin State University.