Maggs Physical Activities Center hosted three games on Saturday with Stockton University (20-2, 4-0 NJAC) and Capital Athletic Conference rival Christopher Newport University (17-7, 5-0 CAC) in town. The Sea Gulls hosted CNU in Saturday’s first contest, followed by the Captains taking on Stockton and Salisbury taking on the Ospreys in the finale.
The Sea Gulls believed their three early season tournaments benefited them coming into their doubleheader with Christopher Newport and Stockton through both experience and strength of schedule.
Senior opposite hitter Carley Cleland said facing these tough opponents to open their season helped prepare them for the pseudo-tournament on Saturday.
“I know the tough competition earlier in the season prepared us today,” Cleland said. “CNU and Stockton are both really great teams, and I think our strength of schedule early on helped us off.”
Game 1: Christopher Newport vs. Salisbury
The Sea Gulls came into their first of two regular season matchups with Christopher Newport on a two-game win streak, defeating St. Mary’s College of Maryland and York College. Salisbury looked to gain its first victory over the Captains since 2016.
The Captains came into Maggs on a 13-game win streak, defeating all but three opponents in straight sets during that span. They would take this match in straight sets as well, knocking off Salisbury 3-0.
The Captains started the first set on a 5-0 run only for Salisbury to come back and tie the game, scoring six points on the next seven serves. After tying the set at 10-10, CNU would take an 18-14 lead after scoring on six of the next 10 serves.
Salisbury came within one point of regaining the lead in the set, but ultimately lost set one 25-22.
Through the first six serves in set two, Salisbury and CNU were knotted up 3-3. The Captains later took the lead and did not look back on their way to winning set two 25-15.
The closest that the Sea Gulls would come to the lead in the second set was a 15-10 deficit.
Trailing Salisbury 2-0 early in set three, CNU scored on the next five serves to once again take a lead that they would not relinquish. The Sea Gulls would come back to cut CNU’s lead to 24-22, but a Riley Garrison kill won Christopher Newport the set and the match over Salisbury.
Sophomore outside hitters Amanda Chew and Chloe Adam led the charge offensively with seven kills each, while senior libero/defensive specialist Hailey Dougherty recorded nine digs in the losing effort.
Between Salisbury’s games, Stockton defeated CNU in a five-setter, snapping the Captains' 14 game win streak while improving the Ospreys’ win streak to 12.
Game 2: Stockton 3, Salisbury 2
After the Ospreys took the opening point of set one, Salisbury would go on a 7-0 run to take the lead, and they would not look back. The Sea Gulls eventually won the first set 25-19.
The second set featured the two teams trading points and tying five times in the set. Tied at 13, the Ospreys would go on a 6-0 run to take a 19-13 lead over Salisbury.
Despite the Sea Gulls' effort to tie the game and retake the lead, Stockton held on 25-21 to take set two.
Trailing 24-17 in the third set, Stockton established a 7-0 run to tie the game up at 24. The Ospreys ended up taking set three 29-27.
Trailing 2-1, set four was a must-win for Salisbury.
Before the start of the fourth set, Salisbury head coach Justin Turco stressed the importance of staying aggressive in this set to his players.
Chew said Turco told the team to stay confident in its abilities and to not hold back.
“He was basically telling us to stay aggressive, go all out for everything having full confidence in everything you do, don’t give a 50% swing, don’t give a 70% swing, 100% every time, because that’s how you beat a tough team,” Chew said.
The fourth set again started off back-and-forth, with the teams trading points on every other serve. Salisbury ultimately defeated Stockton 25-20, forcing the Ospreys into back-to-back five-set games.
Chew believed that Salisbury’s fourth set victory over Stockton showed the Sea Gulls’ hustle along with heart and passion for the game.
“We’re not going to let a team roll us over,” Chew said. “If we [lose a set], we’re not going to let that put us down, we’re going to let that fuel us for the next set and use the things that we did wrong in that set to come out even stronger and fight harder.”
The Ospreys would come back from an early 5-2 deficit to tie the set 8-8. Stockton would eventually go up 14-10 over Salisbury, with the Sea Gulls falling in the fifth set 15-12.
Despite back-to-back losses, Turco sees in his team the potential to defeat any opponent if they play the way he knows they can.
“We showed [in] both matches that when we’re there and consistent, we’re playing at a high level and can beat anyone, and when we’re not, we kind of beat ourselves,” Turco said.
Salisbury saw four players eclipse 10 kills, with Chew having a game-high 21 kills. Freshman setter Blair Pausic had a game- and career-high 70 assists.
Salisbury’s next game is Wednesday when it travels to the University of Mary Washington (10-9, 4-1) for its second meeting with the Eagles this season. Chew said that she feels that the team has improved since its first meeting of the season and are ready for the Eagles.
“I definitely think we’re ready for Mary Washington, I think we’ve gotten used to competing against big hitters, and [Mary Washington] has really big hitters,” Chew said. “The past few games we’ve played team with [big hitters], so I think that really helps.”
By BRANDON STARK
Featured photo: Emma Reider image.