NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The Salisbury University volleyball team fell on Saturday afternoon in the Capital Athletic Conference championship match at top-seeded Christopher Newport University 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-20).
Sophomore Katie Stouffer, who led the sixth-seeded Sea Gulls with 11 kills in the match, ended a 4-2 opening run for Salisbury for an early lead in the first set with her first of the match, taking the set on the left side and sending the ball cross-court in front of the back line.
CNU answered on a 5-0 tear to take a 7-4 lead, which the Captains would hold for the rest of the first game, but a host of errors helped to keep the Sea Gulls close on the scoreboard.
Trailing 23-20, sophomore Shannon Russell tallied a kill, spiking the ball on the right side and proving to be too much for the CNU blockers that deflected the hit out of bounds, getting Salisbury within two points. However, the Captains scored the final two they needed to close the set for the 1-0 lead.
Russell began the second set with a soft tip over the net, taking advantage of an open spot in the CNU defense on the front line for a kill and a 1-0 lead.
Stouffer notched another, again on a hard spike from the left side and off the CNU defense's arms to end a 5-2 run to give the Gulls the lead in the opening moments of the frame.
The Captains were able to take the lead 6-5, but the Gulls kept the set close, as senior Julie Poston tallied a kill, making the score 12-10.
Despite three more kills from Stouffer, CNU ended the second on a 13-8 run to take a 2-0 advantage in the match.
Christopher Newport carried its momentum into the final set, building a quick 5-2 lead, before increasing the advantage to 21-13 late in the game.
Senior Nikki Binetti sparked the Sea Gulls with a kill, before a block by Binetti and Stouffer, sending a hard CNU spike back over the net to the ground, started a 7-2 stretch for SU, cutting the lead to 23-20 and seeming to give the team new life, but CNU ended the set with two-straight points to win its second CAC title in as many seasons.
Salisbury will now look to the NCAA Selection Show on Monday, November 10 for a possible Pool C bid to the NCAA Division III tournament to continue its 2014 season; the show will begin at 11 a.m. For more information about the SU volleyball team as it becomes available, log on to www.suseagulls.com.