Maggs Physical Activities Center welcomed fans for Salisbury volleyball’s first home conference match as the Sea Gulls faced the University of Mary Washington Eagles for the first of their two meetings this season.
The Sea Gulls were unable to maintain the late comeback, dropping their third straight contest by a score of 3-1.
Wednesday marked Salisbury’s first home match since the second day of the Sea Gull Classic on Aug. 31. The Sea Gulls were happy to be back at home after playing 11 consecutive matches on the road.
Sophomore outside hitter Amanda Chew said the team feels more comfortable in the confines of Maggs.
“It feels so good,” Chew said. “There’s nothing better than playing at home in the gym that we’re used to practicing in.”
The Sea Gulls came into their match-up with the Eagles on a two-game losing streak, dropping a five-setter to Arcadia University (10-7) at the Arcadia Classic and their Capital Athletic Conference opener to Southern Virginia University (11-5, 1-1) in straight sets.
The Eagles entered Maggs on a two-game winning streak, defeating Marymount University (10-8) and St. Mary’s College of Maryland (4-12, 0-2) in straight sets.
Salisbury claimed the opening point of the first set on a kill from Chew and held onto the lead for most of the set. Mary Washington managed to keep the deficit from growing and eventually came back to take a 17-15 lead over Salisbury.
Salisbury could not mount the late rally after falling behind. The Eagles won set one 25-23.
Both sides hit at a 20% clip in the first set. The Sea Gulls had seven first-set errors to the Eagles' three.
After the first eight serves of the second set, Salisbury and Mary Washington were knotted at 4-4. The Eagles were able to pull away on strong play from outside hitters Peyton Dunow and Savannah Powers, opening a 20-12 lead over Salisbury.
The Sea Gulls could not mount a late rally, dropping set two 25-17.
Through two sets, Chew led the way for Salisbury with 10 kills, while senior defensive specialist Hailey Dougherty tallied 17 digs. The Gulls had seven kills and six errors in the second set.
In a must-win situation, Salisbury stormed out to a 5-2 lead early in the third set. The Eagles would battle back and eventually tie the set 17-17, forcing the Sea Gulls to use a timeout.
The Sea Gulls would come out of the timeout and go on to win set three 25-23, forcing a fourth set.
The third set was Salisbury’s most efficient on the evening, hitting at a 28% mark with just five errors.
The Eagles jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the fourth set. The Sea Gulls stayed resilient to stay in the game and attempt a comeback.
Trailing 21-11, Salisbury was able to score six of the next eight points to cut the Eagle lead to 23-17. After closing the Mary Washington lead to 24-20, the Eagles got the game point after a Salisbury serve went into the net.
The 3-1 loss to Mary Washington was Salisbury’s first home loss of the season.
Chew finished with a game high 21 kills, while also recording 11 digs. Dougherty recorded a game high 31 digs, and freshman setter Blair Pausic recorded a team high 41 assists.
Despite the loss, Chew was still proud of her teammates for not giving up and fighting until the end in a very physical game against a tough opponent in Mary Washington coming off a straight-set loss to Southern Virginia.
“Our last game, we didn’t perform as well, so this game we were so motivated and dedicated not to let our attitude drop, our emotion drop or our effort drop,” Chew said. “I think even though it was a loss, we fought hard the whole time, and I’m proud of everyone for that.”
Of the 16 players on the roster, Salisbury has 12 underclassmen and a lot of experience to gain as a unit. Five of the Sea Gull starters against the Eagles were underclassmen.
This makes veteran leaders like Dougherty invaluable to the Sea Gulls heading into the highly competitive CAC schedule.
Dougherty admired her teammates' grit and determination on every serve, no matter the deficit they faced.
“It says a lot about our integrity,” Dougherty said. “We are a team that fights for everything, and we have a lot to fight for. We have a young team, but they’re really determined and motivated, so I’m really proud of them for fighting hard and playing for the last point.”
Salisbury will travel across the Chesapeake Bay to face the St. Mary’s Seahawks for their next contest on Saturday at 2 p.m. Head coach Justin Turco and his team is looking forward to practice tomorrow to improve and prepare for St. Mary’s.
“You just focus on what you did well and build on it and focus on what you didn’t do well and make it better,” Turco said. “I know tomorrow they’ll be pretty excited and ready for practice.”
By BRANDON STARK
Featured photo: Emma Reider image.