Lady Rattlers unbeaten in MEAC

The Lady Bulldogs of South Carolina State (7-18) (1-4) came into Gaither Gym to face the first place Lady Rattlers (9-5) (5-0) with plenty of confidence Friday night despite being ranked second to last in the MEAC conference.

FAMU’s opponent screamed loudly as the announcers read the names of the South Carolina State roster before the match, adding fuel to the fire as the Lady Rattlers swept the Lady Bulldogs right out of the gym 30-8, 30-17, and 30-13.

“When they started screaming and everything we were like ‘oh no they are not going to come in here and scream in our house’,” said sophomore outside hitter Maria Gomez. The Ecuador native led FAMU with three serve aces.

As usual, the Lady Rattlers were paced by duo Jovana Blazeski and Iva Lakic, but it was a collective team effort that allowed FAMU to send the Lady Bulldogs packing in just over an hours time.

Blazeski had a team-high nine kills followed by Lakic with eight. Senior Hannah Uckelmann chipped in an unexpected six kills.

“We emphasized to the girls in order for us to be successful everybody should get involved and they did a good job of doing that tonight,” said FAMU head coach Tony Trifonov.

South Carolina State failed to convert a single serve ace as FAMU totaled 45 defensive digs lead by Peru native Susan Egoavil with 19 digs.

In the first game, FAMU overpowered the Lady Bulldogs with kills by Blazeski and Lakic as the Lady Rattlers cruised 30-8.

Adjustments were made by the South Carolina State coaching staff, as FAMU struggled to put away the Bulldogs in the second game as they countered the Lady Rattler attack.

“We did change the line-up and I just asked them to be a little more competitive and we needed to play defense behind the block a lot better, the first game a lot of FAMU’s attack was hitting center court on our side so we weren’t doing a good job at all on defense,” said South Carolina State head coach Millicent Sylvan. “We made one change in the line-up and put another one of our sideline players in and they did a lot better then what the starters did which worked out pretty good.”

The South Carolina State strategy didn’t work well enough against the defending MEAC champions as sophomore setter Zaira Manzo continued to setup FAMU for the kill, finishing off the Lady Bulldogs in the third game 30-13.

“The difference between past years is that we always have one or two superstars on the team that we can rely on now we have a lot of freshmen and we are very young,” Trifonov added.

The six underclassmen on the roster don’t play down to their youth as FAMU continues on an eight match-winning streak, not tasting defeat in over a month.

Tuesday, FAMU travels to Daytona Beach to square off against rival Bethune Cookman University before coming home to face Winston-Salem State Saturday afternoon 2 p.m. at Gaither Gym.