Courtesy: Alabama State Athletics
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | Alabama State opened Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) play with a 3-1 (21-25, 25-14, 25-19, 28-26) victory over Florida A&M at the Al Lawson Center on Friday night.
Jylen Whitten led Alabama State with 16 kills, hitting .297 on the night, with seven digs, and added a pair of service aces. Tallahassee native Jada Rhodes added 15 kills – including the match-winner – while hitting .244 for the Lady Hornets.
Madison Beasley led the Lady Hornets with 27 assists and added four digs, while Emily Brooks added 11 assists. Defensively, Temperance Chatman led the team with 18 digs, while Christyn Ashby and Taila Gaines recorded three blocks each. Kymesha Thompson added 2.5 blocks in the win.
SET 1 | The two teams traded points early in the season before a kill from Whitten and an attack error from the Rattlers gave Alabama State an 8-6 lead. Florida A&M answered with a 4-0 run to take a 10-8 lead and force a Lady Hornet timeout. Alabama State responded out of the timeout to tie the set at 10-all. Florida A&M used a pair of errors to push the lead to 13-11 before Alabama State came back with a kill from Jada Rhodes and a pair of errors to take a 14-13 lead. The two continued to trade points with Florida A&M grabbing a 21-19 lead before the Lady Hornets put up back-to-back points including a block from Thompson to tie the set at 21-all. The Rattlers came out of the timeout on a 4-0 run to claim the opening set.
SET 2 | A kill from Gaines and a pair of aces from Whitten pushed Alabama State out to an early 3-1 lead down in the overall match before Rhodes put an attack away for a 4-1 lead. The kill forced a timeout, however, the run continued with a block from Gaines and another teaming with Ashby to push the lead to 6-1. Another ace from Whitten forced a timeout for Florida A&M with Alabama State up 8-1, before it continued to grow Florida A&M was finally able to stop the run 10-0 with a kill. Florida A&M continued to crawl back into the set getting it to 13-7 and forcing a timeout before Thompson and Ashby recorded the fifth kill for Alabama State in the set to get the lead back to seven at 14-7. The Lady Hornets continued to press in the set and put Florida A&M away ending a streak of six consecutive sets won by the Rattlers dating back to the last regular season meeting of last year.
SET 3 | The Lady Hornets came out the same way they ended the second, on the run using kills from Whitten and Ashby to build a 5-1 lead. The two traded points for the majority of the set until a kill from Ashby and an ace from Whitten pushed the Alabama State lead to 16-11. After the Rattlers pulled to within 17-14, Beasley picked her spot with a kill to push the lead to 18-14 before another block added to it at 19-14. Another short-lived Rattler run was ended when A’Nylah Cobb recorded a kill to the back line for a 21-16 lead. The Lady Hornets pushed the lead to as many as seven before Florida A&M closed to within 23-19. However, Alabama State was able to put the set away for a 2-1 overall lead.
SET 4 | The two teams traded points to start before a 3-0 Florida A&M run pushed the lead to 7-4 and forced an Alabama State timeout. However, out of the timeout, Alabama State used a kill from Rhodes to end the run and pull the Lady Hornets to within two at 7-5. The Rattlers built a 9-7 lead before Alabama State used a furious rally to pull to within 9-8. They were able to hold the lead until Alabama State went on a 4-0 run to grab a 13-11 lead and force a timeout. They continued the run out of the timeout to push it to 14-11 before the Rattlers were able to get on the board. Florida A&M grabbed a 19-18 lead with three consecutive points to force the final Alabama State timeout of the set before the Lady Hornets were able to end the run and tie it up at 19-all on a Rhodes kill. The Lady Hornets grabbed the lead once again when Whitten hit a kill down the line at 20-19, but the teams continued to battle and Florida A&M tied it at 20-all. The two traded points before Florida A&M grabbed a 23-21 lead, and the Lady Hornets came back to tie it up on a Gaines block. Facing set point, Alabama State used a kill and service ace from Whitten before Florida A&M tied it up. A kill and service ace from Gaines set the stage for Rhodes to end the match with a kill.
Alabama State hits the road on Sunday to close out the road trip with a contest at Bethune-Cookman with a start time of noon (ET).