Salisbury University's volleyball team faced off against York College yesterday, the first of two meetings of the Capital Athletic Conference opponents this season. The Sea Gulls were able to fend off a Spartan comeback, defeating York by a 3-2 score.
This marked Salisbury’s first victory over its CAC rival since the 2016 season.
Senior libero/defensive specialist Hailey Dougherty felt that the Sea Gulls made a statement in their first victory over York since she was a freshman.
“It feels really good to get that big win,” Dougherty said. “They beat us the last two times in conference the last two years, and we really wanted to prove ourselves.”
Salisbury entered yesterday’s action just four days removed from its first conference win of the season over St. Mary’s College of Maryland in straight sets.
The Spartans entered Maggs on a five-game winning streak, with their most recent victory coming over Southern Virginia University, 3-1.
Finding themselves down 5-0 in the first set, the Sea Gulls rallied and eventually tied the set up at 9-9 on a service ace by sophomore outside hitter Amanda Chew. The Sea Gulls pulled away from York on seven first set kills from sophomore outside hitter Chloe Adam, ultimately winning the first set 25-10.
Adam credits her team’s energy as a contributing factor to the Sea Gulls' ability to overcome the early deficit.
“Our energy on and off the court is really good; it’s very infectious,” Adam said. “When one person is pumped up, everyone gets pumped up.”
The Spartans took a 4-0 lead to open the second set, as three kills from Willa Fitzgerald and a kill from Hannah Siaurusaitis helped to open the lead. The Sea Gulls would fight to cut into York’s lead, but ultimately would lose the second set 25-19.
Salisbury opened the third set scoring on sophomore defensive specialist Darian DiMatteo’s 10 serves and multiple attack errors from the Spartans. Freshman middle blocker Angelina Casserly got the opening kill and recorded four blocks in the set.
York would get its first point via a Siaurusaitis kill. York tried to form a late rally from its deficit, but fell in set three, 25-15.
Through the first 20 serves in set four, both Salisbury and York were knotted up at 10. After a back-and-forth set, York was able to pull off the win 29-27 with a Lydia Stump kill and an Adam service error, forcing a fifth set.
With DiMatteo back to serve, Salisbury started off the first set on a 6-0 run. The Sea Gulls would not relinquish the lead to the Spartans in the fifth set, with the smallest Spartan deficit of the set being four.
Salisbury head coach Justin Turco understood the importance of getting a lead in set five in a pivotal matchup and credited his team’s ability to maintain aggression.
“It makes it easier to stay aggressive when you’re ahead,” Turco said. “I think we did a good job of going in starting aggressive and jumping on that right away.”
Adam would finish the game with a game-high 17 kills. Chew notched 15 kills while also recording 19 digs, just behind Dougherty, who led the team with 26 digs on the night.
Adam credited her teammates, especially freshman setter Blair Pausic, who finished with a game-high 44 assists, for her performance in Salisbury’s win.
“I couldn’t do it without the passers and the setters,” Adam said. “We had a really good defense going, and Blair put up every ball and it was money.”
Salisbury has 12 underclassmen on their roster of 16 this season. Five of the Sea Gull starters against York were underclassman.
As a senior on this underclassmen-heavy squad, Dougherty views her underclassmen teammates as leaders and knows the importance of their contributions so far this season.
“It’s super important,” Dougherty said. “They [have] really stepped up this year, and we’ve pushed them, and they’ve done a great job responding to it.”
Salisbury returns to action on Saturday when it hosts both Christopher Newport University (16-6, 4-0) and Stockton University (18-2). Turco said the team will be ready to continue the high level of play this weekend.
“We take it one game at a time,” Turco said. “We just go in and grind out Thursday and Friday and get ready to compete on Saturday.”
By BRANDON STARK
Featured photo: Emma Reider image.