BALTIMORE, Md. (Oct. 10, 2021)-The Morgan State volleyball team will travel to Virginia’s Tidewater area to face the Spartans of Norfolk State in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) match on Sunday, Oct. 10 at 1 p.m. at Gill Gymnasium in Norfolk, Va. The Lady Bears are looking to end a two-match losing skid, while Norfolk State looks to complete a weekend sweep against the MEAC’s Baltimore schools.
Morgan State (3-15, 1-3 MEAC) is coming off a 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-16) loss at home to Beltway rival Howard on Friday (10/8). Freshman Madison Grace totaled a match-high 10 kills, while sophomore Gabriela Hiciano added seven kills and nine digs. Freshman Trinity Carruthers finished with 14 assists and junior Jadore Hayes collected 14 digs.
Norfolk State (5-11, 1-4 MEAC) enters the contest coming off a 3-1 (14-25, 25-15, 25-14, 25-16) victory over Coppin State (10/8). Paola Matos hit a match-high .684 and finished with a match-best 13 kills, while Shonte Seale also had 13 kills. Caris Cross finished with a match-high 36 assists and hit .667 with four kills, while Nicole Rodriguez had a match-best 12 digs. The Spartans finished the contest with 48 kills, including a set-high 17 kills in the fourth and final set. Norfolk State had a team attack percentage of .256.
MSU SERIES NOTES AGAINST NORFOLK STATE: Morgan State leads the all-time series, 23-7. Norfolk State opted out of the 2021 Spring season, thus the two teams did not play. They last met during the 2019 season with both teams sweeping the contest on their home floors.
NEXT UP: The Lady Bears will return home to host Delaware State in a MEAC match on Friday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. at Hill Field House.
GRACE EARNS BACK-TO-BACK MEAC ROOKIE HONOR: Madison Grace was selected as MEAC Rookie of the Week (10/4), presented by Coca-Cola. It marked back-to-back weeks for Grace, who also earned the honor the previous week (Sept. 27) and her third time thus far. She also received the award on Sept. 13. The 5-foot-10 outside hitter had an attack percentage of .351 and totaled 17 kills and two digs in Morgan’s lone contest of the week against Coppin State (10/1).
IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME: After spending 34 days away from home, the Morgan State volleyball team finally returned home on Friday, Oct. 1 when it welcomed crosstown rival Coppin State to Hill Field House for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) home opener for the Lady Bears. It was the first home contest for Morgan State since Aug. 28, when it hosted the finale of the Baltimore Invite Tournament.
A FRESHMAN WILL LEAD THEM: Freshman outside hitter Madison Grace has totaled a team-leading 195 kills (3.31 kills per set). A native of Clinton Township, Mich., Grace has reached double-digits in kills 10 times this season, including the last five matches. Grace is averaging 15.3 kills per match through her first four MEAC contests and ranks third in kills per set amongst league leaders.
SAYING GOODBYE: Morgan State will say goodbye to two seniors at the end of the season in two-year member Kendal Hoges and four-year member Jasmin Perry. The two will be honored during the Lady Bears’ Senior Day festivities prior to their match against the University of Maryland Eastern Shore on November 7 at 1 p.m.
GRACE EARNS SECOND MEAC ROOKIE HONOR: Madison Grace was selected as MEAC Rookie of the Week (9/27), presented by Coca-Cola. It was the second MEAC Weekly honor for Grace, who also earned the award on Sept. 13. A native of Clinton Township, Mich., Grace hit .271 for the week and averaged 4.1 kills per set. She totaled 29 kills, four digs and had four total blocks, including a solo to help the Lady Bears to a 1-1 week. The 5-foot-10 outside hitter recorded 18 kills, two digs, three total blocks, including one solo against North Carolina Central (9/24), before ending the week with 11 kills, two digs and an assisted block in the win at S.C. State (9/26).
ROAD WARRIORS: The Lady Bears entered its road swing to North Carolina Central (9/24) and South Carolina State (9/26) playing their fourth straight weekend and 11th and 12th consecutive matches away from home. When Morgan State finally returns home to host rival Coppin State for its MEAC home opener (Oct. 1), it will mark 34 days since the team last played in the friendly confines of Hill Field House, since hosting the Baltimore Invite Tournament (Aug. 27-28).
STILL UNBEATEN: Morgan State improved to 24-0 all-time against South Carolina State, following its 3-0 sweep of the host Bulldogs (9/26) in Dukes Gymnasium in Orangeburg, S.C.
PERRY EARNS ALL-TOURNAMENT HONORS: Senior Jasmin Perry was named to the UNH/Merrimack All-Tournament Team (9/18). The Bowie, Md. native hit .463 for the weekend, totaling 22 kills, five digs, five blocks, including four solos and an assist in three matches. The 5-foot-11 middle blocker hit for .667 and recorded seven kills, an assist and assisted on a block in a 3-0 victory over host Merrimack (9/17). Later that day, she added seven kills, a dig and had four solo blocks against co-host New Hampshire. Perry concluded the tournament hitting .467 with eight kills and four digs in the finale against Rhode Island (9/18).
UNBEATEN STREAKS ON THE LINE: The Lady Bears will look to extend their winning ways against three opponents this season. Morgan State enters the 2021 campaign having never lost to Marist (1-0), North Carolina Central (3-0) or South Carolina State (23-0). MSU will face Marist in the finale of the George Mason Invitational (9/11). The Lady Bears will take on both North Carolina Central (9/24-away, 10/22-home) and South Carolina State (9/26-away, 10/24-home) twice this season in MEAC action.
BOZIER APPROACHING 500 WINS: Morgan State head coach Ramona Riley-Bozier entered the 2021 Fall season with 476 career victories, 24 wins shy of No. 500. She is now 21 wins away from the 500-win plateau. Riley-Bozier, who is the all-time winningest coach at Morgan State in any sport with 479 career victories as the volleyball coach, is also the softball program’s all-time career leader with 161 victories in the nine seasons she coached at the helm.
BOZIER ENTERS 34TH SEASON: Morgan head coach Ramona Riley-Bozier enters her 34th season at the helm of the Lady Bear program. The all-time winningest coach at MSU (478), Riley-Bozier guided the Lady Bears to 88 consecutive MEAC Northern Division wins between 1994-2003. She has led MSU to five MEAC Championships, three NCAA Tournament appearances and earned MEAC Coach of the Year honors five times. Bozier also coached the softball team at MSU for nine seasons and in 1999 led the team to its first MEAC title game appearance. A native of Kansas City, Mo., Bozier, is a graduate of MSU, where she was a two-sport start in volleyball and track. She is one of 11 players in the history of the program to have registered 1,000 career kills. On the track, Bozier was a three-time All-American and one of the top triple jumpers at Morgan. She still holds the UMBC meet record in the 60 meter dash (1983) and ran the first leg of the 4X100 relay, which in 1986 set the school record in a time of 44.47 seconds, which also still stands. That squad would also win the Penn Relays and finished second that year at the Division I National Championships. Bozier was inducted into the Morgan State Hall of Fame in 2003.
GRACE EARNS MEAC ROOKIE OF THE WEEK: Madison Grace was selected as the MEAC Volleyball Rookie of the Week (9/13). It was the first MEAC weekly honor for Grace and Morgan State this season. A native of Clinton Township, Mich., Grace averaged 4.7 kills per set, had an attack percentage of .380, while leading the Lady Bears with 66 kills to help Morgan State to a 1-2 weekend at the George Mason Invitational (Sept. 10-11).
HICIANO, GRACE NAMED TO MASON INVITATIONAL TEAM: Sophomore Gabriela Hiciano and freshman Madison Grace were named to the George Mason Invitational All-Tournament Team (9/12). Hiciano finished with 33 kills, 34 digs and added two service aces and assisted on three blocks. The 5-foot-11 outside hitter reached double figures in kills and digs twice and had one double-double during the tournament. A native of Carolina, Puerto Rico, Hiciano recorded 12 kills, six digs and had three assisted blocks to help Morgan to a five-set win over host George Mason (9/10) for its first win of the season. She concluded the tournament with a double-double of 15 digs and 13 kills against Marist (9/11). Grace hit .380 and finished with 66 kills, four digs, two blocks, including one solo in three matches. She tallied a season-high 25 kills, while hitting .500 in the win over George Mason. Grace followed that performance with another 25 kills, while hitting .412 with a dig and a solo block in the finale against Marist.
HOGES NAMED TO TOWSON INVITATIONAL TEAM: Senior middle blocker Kendal Hoges was named to the Towson Invitational All-Tournament Team (9/5). Hoges finished the weekend with 12 assisted blocks, nine kills, three digs and an assist. A native of West Orange, N.J., she recorded a season-best six kills against Loyola Maryland, while hitting .600 and had four assisted blocks and a digs against the Greyhounds (9/4). Earlier in the day Hoges had four blocks, two kills and a dig against Princeton.
OPENING SERVE: Morgan State is 9-20 in season openers since the 1993 season, after falling to visiting Cleveland State, 3-0 in the home opener (8/27). The Lady Bears’ last opening day victory was a 3-2 win at home against Seton Hall in the opener of the Morgan/Towson Invitational (8/30/19).
JACKSON EARNS BALTIMORE INVITE HONORS: Sophomore transfer Justyus Jackson was named to the Baltimore Invite All-Tournament Team (8/28). A native of Davenport, Iowa, Jackson averaged 1.77 kills and 1.15 blocks per set in four matches. She led the host Lady Bears with a total of 15 blocks, including three solo blocks and finished second on the team with 23 kills. Jackson led Morgan State with a hitting percentage of .370, while also adding three service aces and six digs. Jackson recorded a career-best five blocks and a career-high three service aces to go with four kills and two digs against Binghamton.
MORGAN PICKED TIED FOR FOURTH IN MEAC: Morgan State was picked to finish tied for fourth with Maryland Eastern Shore in the eight-team Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) preseason poll, as voted by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. In 2020-21, the Lady Bears were picked to finish tied for third with Delaware State in the MEAC Northern Division and ended up third.
2021 CAPTAINS ANNOUNCED: Junior middle hitter Melanie Battle (La Plata, Md.) has been named 2021 team captain, while senior middle blockers Kendal Hoges (West Orange, N.J.) and Jasmin Perry (Bowie, Md.) will serve as co-captains.
TOURNAMENT EXPOSURE: The Lady Bears will take part in four regular season tournaments this year. Following the Baltimore Invite (Aug. 27-28), Morgan State will make the short trip to Towson, Md. to compete in the Towson Invitational (Sept. 3-5) against Stony Brook, Princeton, Loyola Maryland and host Towson. Next will be a trip to Fairfax, Va. to face Robert Morris, host George Mason and Marist in the George Mason Invitational (Sept. 10-11). The Lady Bears will conclude their regular season tournament schedule in Massachusetts and New Hampshire in the co-hosted University of New Hampshire/Merrimack Tournament (Sept. 17-18), where Morgan will take on hosts Merrimack and New Hampshire along with Rhode Island.
WELCOME TO THE CAVE: Morgan State welcomes the addition of eight newcomers to the 2021 squad, three freshmen, three sophomore transfers and two junior transfers. Those newcomers are freshmen Trinity Carruthers (Grand Prairie, Texas), Madison Grace (Clinton Township, Mich.) and Kayla Gaddy-Middleton (Dayton, N.J.) along with sophomore transfers Makila Billingsley (Plainfield, N.J.), Justyus Jackson (Davenport, Iowa) and Mackenzie Jefferson (Prosper, Texas) and junior transfers Kamryn Brown (Evergreen Park, Ill.), Jadore Hayes (Grapevine, Texas).
NICE MEETING YOU: Morgan State has two opponents on the schedule this season that it has never faced before. The Lady Bears will meet both Merrimack and New Hampshire on the opening day of the UNH/Merrimack Tournament (9/17), co-hosted by both schools.
MORGAN EARNS USMC/AVCA ACADEMIC AWARD AGAIN: The Lady Bears volleyball program was honored as a recipient of the United State Marine Corps (USMC) and the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award for the 2020-21 academic year. Morgan State had a team GPA of 3.62. It marked the second consecutive year the team has earned the award. Last season Morgan State, which received the award for the first time in program history, posted a team GPA of 3.48 for the 2019-20 academic year.
POSTSEASON EXPERIENCE: Morgan will face just one opponent this season (Towson) that reached the 2020 NCAA Volleyball Tournament in April 2021. The Lady Bears will face the rival Tigers twice this season on each other’s home floor. The two will square off in Baltimore on Aug. 27 in the Baltimore Invite, before closing out their season series the following week on Sept. 5 in the finale of the Towson Invitational in Towson, Md.
2021 MEAC CHAMPIONSHIP: This year’s 2021 MEAC Volleyball Championship returns back to Washington, D.C. after a year hiatus. The championship tournament, which was held in Norfolk, Va. at Norfolk State University during the 2021 Spring season, will take place November 19-21, 2021 at Burr Gymnasium on the campus of Howard University. The last time the tournament was held in the Nation’s Capital was during the 2019 season. Morgan State would reach the title match that season, falling to host Howard in a five-set thriller.