SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University volleyball team earned the right to fight for its third-straight Capital Athletic Conference championship, defeating the University of Mary Washington, 3-2, in a conference semifinal game on Thursday night at Maggs Physical Activities Center.
The Sea Gulls appeared to take control early in the first set, opening the game on a 10-1 run, with senior Tam Weems and juniors, Julie Poston and Mattie Smith, each tallying two kills during the run. However, UMW would strike back, going on a 14-4 run to eventually take a 15-14 lead and make the set close.
SU led late in the set, 23-20, but the Eagles tallied three kills and, along with the help of some Salisbury errors, took a 1-0 lead with a 27-25 victory.
Weems and Poston both registered 16 kills on the night to lead the team, while Weems boasted an .800 hitting percentage.
With the second set tied, 6-6, three kills from freshman Katie Stouffer and two from Poston powered a 12-4 run to give SU an 18-10 lead.
Poston and Stouffer continued to lead the Sea Gulls with three and two kills, respectively, in the remainder of the set, with Poston adding her last two for the Gulls' final two points of the frame, as Salisbury tied the match with a 25-16 win.
The third set remained close throughout its entirety, with neither side able to grab a lead of more than three points. Salisbury led late in the set, 23-20, but three straight kills by the Eagles spurred a 5-0 run, giving Mary Washington a 25-23 victory and a 2-1 advantage in the match.
The Sea Gulls trailed early in the fourth set, 5-4, but Weems, who led the team with six kills in the set, tallied her third of the frame to spark a 9-4 stretch as SU took a 13-9 lead.
Stouffer added two kills in the run, while Smith and sophomore Colleen White each had one.
Salisbury held its lead for the remainder of the set, taking the game, 25-20, with Weems hitting her last kills to close the frame and tie the match, 2-2.
After forcing the decisive fifth set, Salisbury fell in a 3-1 hole, after UMW's Kayla Crawford grabbed three early kills in the game; Crawford led the Eagles with 24 on the night.
The teams were unable to grab more than a two-point lead, with the set featuring seven ties and three lead changes.
With the score knotted, 15-15, a Stouffer kill gave Salisbury the lead, before Poston's final kill would end the night, 17-15, and move Salisbury into the final round of the conference tournament.
Smith and Stouffer both reached double-digit kills, as well, with 10 and 12, respectively, while sophomore Kacey Franz led the team in assists (29) and digs (15).
The Sea Gulls will travel to Christopher Newport University, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, on Saturday for the championship match; the start time is 3 p.m. Log on to www.suseagulls.com for more information as it becomes available.