William Ricks | Contributing Writer
The Hampton University volleyball team is looking to return to familiar territory at the end of the regular season.
The Lady Pirates are sitting at the No. 3 seed in the MEAC Northern Division and are looking to make a run in the MEAC Volleyball Tournament. The team has had a recent string of success, but can they keep it going and possibly move up to the one seed in the division?
Hampton has managed to turn its season around after stumbling out of the gates. The Lady Pirates started 2-11 but have turned their season around, winning six of their past eight matches. The team is hitting their stride at the right time, as the season is entering the home stretch.
The Lady Pirates have dominated their conference schedule, beating Coppin State, Delaware State, Morgan State, North Carolina A&T, South Carolina State and Savannah State. Conference wins are very important, simply because these are the teams who you are competing with for a tournament spot the entire season.
Rival Howard is the biggest threat to the team’s chances at moving up in the standings, as they have the same overall record as Hampton (8-13). However, Howard’s conference record is better than Hampton’s at 5-1, which puts them ahead of Hampton in the standings. The teams play again November 5 which gives the Lady Pirates a chance to leapfrog their rival.
The Lady Pirates have been solid on the offensive end with multiple players tallying over 100 kills during the season. Reeana Richardson is the team leader in kills with 199, as she has been able to put points on the board for Hampton. Lena Reed-Petracek has dished out 370 assists all season, ultimately leading the team. Mallory Beard is another player with a ton of assists–220 in total. With the offense coming from more than one player, Hampton has the ability to beat teams in many different ways.
The defense has been strong as well. Maja Petronijevic has been the defensive anchor for the team with 225 digs on the season. Petronijevic’s ability to keep the ball from hitting the floor allows her teammates to get the ball back to the other side quickly. Lena Washington has also played a critical part on defense, sitting in the top five in digs (151) and blocks (38) for the team.
Making a move to the No. 1 seed is a tall task for the Lady Pirates as the University of Maryland Eastern Shore is 18-6 with a conference record of 5-0. Earlier in the season, the Lady Pirates lost to the Hawks. The two teams played again Thursday, but the match took place after this issue’s deadline.
Making the MEAC Tournament would be a huge accomplishment for the Lady Pirates, who have not been in the tourney since winning it in 2014.