Spartans Fall to Towson, Furman at Pirate Invitational

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GREENVILLE, N.C. – The Norfolk State volleyball team dropped its first two matches of the season on Friday, falling 3-0 to Towson and 3-1 to Furman at the Pirate Invitational. Senior Shonte Seale led the Spartans with 22 kills across both matches.

The Spartans got off to a slow start against the Tigers, falling behind 7-3 early in the first game. After dropping the first set 25-17, NSU came out fighting in the second. The frontline forced two Tiger attack errors in a row before graduate transfer Carla Hernandez notched a kill to put the Spartans ahead 5-4 early.

But Towson answered with a 4-0 run of its own shortly after, building another four-point cushion that kept the Spartans from making any significant advances. Paola Matos pulled the squad within two off a crafty assist by freshman setter Sydney McCree, but the Tigers forced eight NSU errors in the second game to help Towson take a 2-0 lead in the match.

Hernandez tried to will her team into a comeback with six kills in the third game, but it wasn’t enough to force a fourth set. She led the team with seven kills, while Matos and junior Seale followed closely behind at six each. McCree made a strong collegiate debut with a team-high 12 assists.

The Spartans had little time to rest, stepping back on the court just a few hours later for a matchup with the Paladins. Furman struck first blood, but just barely, winning the opening set 25-23. Despite trailing 18-12 at one point in the game, the Spartans rallied back within two points, fueled by multiple Seale kills and another from freshman Raquel Lightbourn.

A rough start doomed NSU in the second game, as Furman jumped out to a quick 8-1 lead. The team couldn’t overcome the deficit, despite a late run of three straight kills by Seale.

NSU wouldn’t go down without a fight. Matos got the set going on the right note by putting away a McCree pass, and newcomer Alondra Hernandez followed with a service ace. All-MEAC libero Nicole Rodriguez and the Spartans’ backline continued to hold off Furman’s attacks, helping the team take an 8-2 lead in the third game. Rodriguez ended with a match-high 22 digs.

Furman responded with a 5-0 run of its own, but NSU steadied itself to regain control before long. After recording her third kill of the set, Seale stumped the Paladins with a service ace to put NSU on the board, trailing 2-1 in the match. Seale finished the match with a team-best 16 kills and an additional 11 digs.

The Spartans kept the momentum with them into the fourth frame, taking a 6-2 lead after a powerful kill from junior Adlene Jideofor. The Spartans made eight attack errors in the set, giving Furman a chance to pull back ahead. The Paladins put together a 4-0 run to clinch the match with a 25-16 set victory.

NSU will conclude the Pirate Invitational with a bout against the Pirates themselves, facing East Carolina at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+.

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