Coppin State remains perfect, could wrap up MEAC

BALTIMORE – Coppin State faces the two teams right behind them in the MEAC standings when it hosts Norfolk State on Friday, November 3 before traveling to Howard on Sunday, November 5. The Eagles swept both teams earlier in the season and are able to clinch its third regular season title in the last four seasons with a win.

Coppin swept Le Moyne as all 14 healthy players saw action, led by TaKenya Stafford with six kills and six digs. Andrea Tsvetanova recorded 14 assists, five aces and six digs in just two sets while Geraldyn Palacios tallied five kills, three aces and four blocks. The win was the 100th of head coach Tim Walsh‘s tenure at Coppin.

Coppin State
Photo courtesy: Tim Rice/Coppin State

Coppin is 27-15 all-time against the Spartans with five-straight wins and 12-1 in the last 13 meetings. The Eagles are 10-68 all-time against Howard but have won two-straight, and six of the last eight.

Gabrielle Gilbert (3.66 kills) and Shonte Seale (2.86 kills) are one of the top offensive duos in the MEAC with Alexa Harris, Adlene Jideofor and Grace Smith able to cause fits for the opposition as well. Sydney McCree ranks third in the league with 8.08 assists/set while leading the Spartans with 24 aces. Fabiana Mucciola leads the back row with 3.05 digs/set, followed by McCree (1.86 digs), Seale, Trinity Mitchell and Gilbert all averaging well over a dig. Jideofor is the team’s top blocker with 43, followed by Smith with 37 and Gilbert, arguably the league’s top freshman, with 21.

The Bison are led by reigning MEAC Player of the Year Rya McKinnon with 3.77 kills/set, but the Bison have a great all-around attack with Jennifer Bolden (2.47 kills), Cimone Woodard (2.08 kills), Bria Woodard (1.73 kills) and Dami Awojobi (127 kills). Kayla Diaz shared Setter of the Year accolades with Tsvetanova last season and is second in the league to Tsvetanova with 9.22 assists and 42 aces. Claire Simpson anchors the back row with 3.89 digs/set, followed by McKinnon (1.89), Amari Patterson (1.65) and Diaz (1.27). At the block, Maya Gerlach leads the way with 47 blocks, followed by Cimone Woodard (43) and Diaz (34). 

In a five-set victory at NC Central, Coppin broke its single-match digs record with 101 on the day, breaking the old mark of 96 which was recorded in a 4-set match to American on Sept. 6, 2022. Ashley Roman, who tallied a single-match record of 36 against AU in 2022, had a season-high 30 digs against NC Central, followed by TaKenya Stafford with a career-high 23. Coco Figueroa and Andrea Tsvetanova also had season-highs of 17 and 13, respectively.

20 FOR 20
In Coppin’s five-set win over MD Eastern Shore on Sept. 24, TaKenya Stafford, who wears #20, recorded a career-high 21 kills while hitting .250. It was the second 20+ kill match of her career as she tallied 20 kills at Belmont as a member of Eastern Illinois on Oct. 15, 2021. She’s the first CSU player to record 20 kills since Miajavon Coleman had 20 against NC Central on Sept. 25, 2022.

Stafford even more recently became just the 2nd CSU player to record 20+ kills and 20+ digs in the same match (Miajavon Coleman) as she recorded career-highs of 27 kills and 23 digs in a 5-set win at NC Central.

Laila Ibrahim matched a school-record with 11 blocks in a 4-set victory over Portland on Sept. 16. This propelled her to earning All-Tournament Team honors at the UNLV Rebel Challenge and helped her receive MEAC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 18. Her 11 blocks are tied for the 6th-most in the NCAA this season in a 4-set match.

The Eagles also broke a school-record with 17.0 total blocks in the win over the Pilots. This ranks tied for 11th in the NCAA during a 4-set match this season.

Individual Single-Match Blocks
1T. Laila Ibrahim     11 (9/16/23)
1T. Yaniris Miller-Green    11 (9/16/22)
1T. Jasmine Lougheed    11 (10/21/16)
4T. Geraldyn Palacios    10 (8/30/22)
4T. Kendra Ireigbe    10 (9/13/14)

Team Blocking Records
3-Set: 12.0 vs. E. Michigan (9/13/14)
4-Set: 17.0 vs. Portland (9/16/23)
5-Set: 14.0 vs. E. Michigan (9/16/22)

Hope Casel came through in a huge way for the Eagles in victories over Delaware State and at Maryland Eastern Shore, tallying a career-high 18 kills in a five-set comeback win against the Hornets. After hitting .300 and recording seven kills in the fourth set alone, Casel came back with nine more kills on .375 swinging in a sweep at UMES. For the weekend, Casel recorded 27 kills and four blocks on .321 swinging. The following weekend, she went off for a team-high 14 kills on .435 swinging along with a career-high six blocks in a win over NC Central.

Coppin is on a nine-match winning streak which is the second-longest in program history. Earlier this season, they also racked up a seven-match streak. The Eagles won a program-record ten-straight matches in the 2020 season which was played in the Spring 2021 semester due to Covid.

Wins    Dates
10     (2/25/21-4/2/21)
9    (9/29/23-10/31/23)
8     (10/25/13-11/16/13)
7     (8/26/23-9/9/23)
7     (9/9/22-10/7/22)
7     (10/14/22-11/4/22)

After leading the Nation in aces & aces/set last year, Andrea Tsvetanova is the CSU all-time record holder in the category, leads all active players in aces per set and 2nd among total aces.

Her 114 aces in 2022 were tied for the 3rd-most in the NCAA since the 25-point scoring format started in 2008. Her 0.86 aces/set was the 4th most during that stretch. She matched an NCAA record with 15 aces in a 3-set match vs. South Carolina State.

Tsvetanova is also climbing the MEAC all-time leaderboard in aces despite playing just three seasons while splitting playing time in the first. She leads all MEAC players since 2008 (25-point set adoption).

2022 NCAA Aces/Set
1. Andrea Tsvetanova (CSU)    0.86
2. Abby Nieporte (Lafayette)    0.74

2022 NCAA Service Aces
1. Tsvetanova (CSU)    114
2. Mia Wesley (Southern Miss.)    77

NCAA Active Career Aces
1. B. Petrenko (Louis.)    219 (435g)
2. Tsvetanova (CSU)    218 (316g)

NCAA Active Aces/Set (min. 100 SA)
1. Tsvetanova (CSU)    0.690
2. Giovanna Lopez (E. Illinois)    0.551

MEAC Career Aces Leaders
1. Jana Milin (UMES 02-05)    315
2. Arlene Mitchell (NCAT 03-06)    274
3. Nicole Adams (Ham 00-03)    238
4. JaNina Lee (MSU 94-96,98)    236
5. Brenda Gonzales (Ham 98-01)    221
6. Tsvetanova (2021-pres.)    218

In the season opening sweep against McNeese, Andrea Tsvetanova recorded 44 assists, the most of her career in a three-set match. It was the most assists by a CSU player since Chelsee Sauni, Coppin’s all-time leader in assists, had 47 assists in a win at Maryland Eastern Shore on November 3, 2013. It was also the most by any MEAC player since Stephanie Shultis of Howard had 46 at Delaware State on Oct. 26, 2014.

Ashley Roman has been named 1st Team All-MEAC all four years and has received the league’s Defensive Player of the Year all three times its been awarded.  She recently broke the MEAC record for digs, held by Ashley Preston, who also coached at Coppin from 2012-14. Roman is ranked 5th among active NCAA players in digs and her 4.71 digs/set is also the 13th most amongst the active players with at least 1,500 digs.

NCAA Active Career Digs
1. Tara Beilsmith (SEMO)    2,727
2. Rocio Morio (N. Florida)    2,642
3. Carissa Barnes (Texas)    2,366
4. Ellie Snook (USC)    2,318
5. Ashley Roman (Coppin)    2,307
6. Kylie Murr (Minnesota)    2,251

Coppin State has had an athlete win the MEAC Woman of the Year award the last three years, and two of them have been volleyball players with Salma Gonzales in 2020 and Miajavon Coleman in 2022. This year, Ashley Roman is a likely candidate for the award.  While her athletic prowess is well-documented, she has also been a standout in the classroom with over a 3.8 GPA in Biology, started a Latinx club on Coppin State’s campus while serving on the MEAC’s Hispanic and Latinx Heritage committee, and has organized several food and supply drives for hurricane and earthquake victims in her native Puerto Rico.

Sophomore Laila Ibrahim hit a school-record .923 with 12 kills on 13 swings in a sweep at Penn on Sept. 9, breaking a record held by USA Track & Field Olympian Christina Epps who hit .769 with ten kills at Providence on Sept. 10, 2011. Ibrahim’s 12 kills and 13 attempts were both career highs, as were her five blocks against the Quakers. Ibrahim’s hitting percentage was the best in the NCAA at the time this season and was the highest in the NCAA since Lauren Matthews of Western Kentucky hit .929 with 13 kills on 14 swings against FIU on Oct. 1, 2021.

In a sweep of South Carolina State, Geraldyn Palacios hit .857 with 12 kills on 14 swings. Her 12 kills were a career-high.

Over the last five seasons, Coppin has been one of the top programs in the MEAC. Since 2018, the Eagles have the second-best record in the league which included the program’s first regular season title & winning season in the Spring 2020 campaign. From 2005 to 2017, Coppin won just 45 conference games. 

MEAC Standings Since 2018
Howard    57-19 (75.0%)
Coppin State    54-19 (73.9%)

Coppin has won a school-record 11 non-conference games this season, eclipsing the nine non-conference wins they had last season. CSU still has American and Le Moyne on the schedule this year. Among the highlights last year was a Liberty University Invitational Championship where the Eagles defeated Liberty, Radford and Eastern Michigan. CSU also defeated a trio of SWAC schools at the ISTAP HBCU Challenge in Alabama, as well as George Washington, North Carolina A&T and Bethune-Cookman. 

Tracking Non-Conf. Opponents
McNeese    13-14 (11-3 Southland)
Auburn    17-5 (7-4 SEC)
Jax State    5-17 (3-9 CUSA)
UNCG    1-22 (0-12 SoCon)
Morehead St    14-11 (7-6 OVC)
Marshall    12-14 (4-8 Sun Belt)
Loyola MD    9-14 (4-9 Patriot)
Lafayette    9-12 (5-8 Patriot)
Penn    3-17 (1-9 Ivy)
UNLV    14-10 (6-6 MWC)
Lamar    1-24 (1-13 Southland)
Portland    8-15 (3-8 WCC)
American    16-9 (9-4 Patriot)
Le Moyne    1-20 (1-9 NEC)

TK 3-FOR-3
TaKenya Stafford was impressive in her CSU debut, recording three double-doubles in as many matches at Auburn’s War Eagle Invitational. In the opener against McNeese, Stafford hit .321 with a team-high 15 kills along with 14 digs. She followed up with ten kills and 11 digs against a tough Auburn squad before concluding the weekend with a team-high 12 kills and ten digs. Stafford had three double-doubles as a freshman at Eastern Illinois in 2021.

While Ammaarah Williams and TaKenya Stafford got much of the hype during the opening weekend at Auburn, Geraldyn Palacios also had an impressive week in the middle. Hitting a team-high .373 with 24 kills in three matches, Palacios recorded a career-high 11 kills on 25 swings to hit .360 against McNeese.  She hit an identical .385 against Auburn and Jacksonville State with a combined 13 kills and seven blocks in the two matches. Palacios has gone on to record ten kills in four other matches (Howard, at NCCU, vs. Portland, UMES).  She now ranks 3rd in the MEAC in hitting and 7th in blocks.

Freshman Coco Figueroa made her first career appearance and start at libero against Delaware State on October 20. Redshirt senior Ashley Roman did not play in that first set, which was the first in her career that she did not start or appear in.

Ashley RomanAndrea Tsvetanova and Ammaarah Williams all received MEAC Weekly awards on Sept. 4 with Williams earning Player of the Week, Roman was Defensive Player of the Week and Tsvetanova as Setter of the Week.  

Paola Caten returns from injury this season as one of the most all-around players in school-history. An All-Rookie selection in 2019, she made 2nd Team in the Spring 2021 season and first team in Fall 2021. She enters this year just outside Coppin’s top ten in kills and digs while ranking eighth in both aces and points. She owns a school-record with 71 attacks in a single match as she recorded a career-high 28 kills along with 16 digs for 30.5 points in a 5-set loss at NC Central. NCCU was led by current CSU player Ammaarah Williams with 19 kills.

For the first time in her collegiate career, Ahzhi Coleman will not have her sister Miajavon Coleman as a team-mate.  While the older Coleman proved to be one of the top players in MEAC history, Ahzhi has made her own legacy at Coppin.  After being an All-Rookie Team selection in 2021 with a team-high 57 blocks to go with 138 kills, she upped her production to 162 kills and 71 blocks while hitting .250.  In just two seasons, she is nearing CSU’s top ten in blocks with 134 in her career.

After seeing limited time as a freshman, Hope Casel stepped up in a big way during the 2022 season. Casel nearly tripled her kills from her freshman season and finished fourth on the team with 11 on the season. She also doubled her blocks from the previous season with 36 on the season.

TaKenya Stafford, a transfer from Eastern Illinois, brings a different kind of vibe to the Eagles this season and is expected to be an immediate starter at the pin. Hailing from Los Angeles, TK recorded 76 kills with 177 digs in 15 matches for the Panthers in 2021. Recording 14 kills with 13 digs in her collegiate debut vs. Bellarmine, she had back to-back double-doubles at Belmont later in the season (20k/14d & 14k/10d). She appeared in just two matches last season.

Coppin received nine of 16 first-place votes and finished in a tie for first with Howard in the MEAC Preseason Poll. Ashley RomanAndrea Tsvetanova and Ammaarah Williamswere named to the Preseason All-MEAC Team.

2022 RECAP
Coppin won the MEAC Regular Season Championship and advanced to the conference championship game before falling to #3 seed and host Delaware State. The Eagles won a school-record 23 matches and earned their first-ever postseason bid where they dropped a five-heartbreaker at Wake Forest in the NIVC First Round.

Coppin State remains perfect, could wrap up MEAC

Source link : hbcugameday.com

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