SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University volleyball team dropped a heartbreaking 3-2 decision on Friday night to visiting York College of Pennsylvania after falling behind 2-0 to start the match. The Sea Gulls are now a half game behind the Spartans in the Capital Athletic Conference standings with one week in the regular season left to play.
Salisbury (15-8, 4-3 CAC) dropped the opening two sets by scores of 25-20 and a tough win by two, 26-24, second set. The Sea Gulls struggled to find any offensive rhythm in the first and second sets, totaling only 20 kills and recording hitting percentages of .125 and .098. In both sets the maroon and gold fell behind and were unable to catch York (Pa.) (18-7, 4-2 CAC), pulling within three five times in the first set and holding a brief 15-14 lead in the second set. The Gulls did manage to rally back to knot the set at 24-24 before dropping the next two points to fall 26-24.
However, the maroon and gold refused to go away without a fight. After falling behind 6-1 in the third set, a Salisbury timeout calmed everything down and got the Sea Gulls back on track. They embarked on a 5-3 run to cut the Spartans lead to just three, 9-6. After York (Pa.) stretched its advantage to four, 10-6, Salisbury rallied off a 12-1 scoring run to pull ahead 18-11. Four total kills and three in a row from Nicole Venturelli helped with the run while Hailey Dougherty notched two straight service aces.
A rally from the Spartans cut the deficit to just three, 18-15, but the Sea Gulls would tally seven of the final ten points scored to earn a 25-18 victory. Three different Gulls tallied kills during the 7-3 scoring run, including one apiece from Carley Cleland and Lacey Swartout, while Amanda Rodriguez capped the third set win with a service ace, her first of the night. Overall, the maroon and gold tallied 12 kills in the set while posting a team hitting percentage of .294 and holding York (Pa.) to a percentage of just .100.
The fourth set was all Salisbury early as the Gulls raced out to a 20-9 lead, using a 14-5 run after the Spartans cut the Salisbury lead to just two, 6-4, early in the set. Freshman Allison Laucella became the second player on the night for the maroon and gold to tally back-to-back service aces while Sydney Davis posted three kills during the scoring spree. However, York (Pa.) would battle back to make a game of it, going on a 13-4 run of its own before Venturelli ended all hopes of a comeback, hammering home the set winning kill to pull the Gulls even at 2-2 with a 25-22 win. For the set Salisbury tallied a team total of 14 kills and a hitting percentage of .235.
It was not meant to be however, as York (Pa.) captured a 15-10 win behind 12 team kills and a hitting percentage of .400 in the fifth set. The Spartans jumped out to an early 10-2 lead before the Sea Gulls were able to pull within four twice, 10-6 and 11-7, behind a kill from Swartout and Rodriguez's second service ace of the evening.
For the match Salisbury totaled 51 kills and a hitting percentage of .193. Venturelli led the Sea Gulls with a team-high 16 kills while Davis and Swartout each finished with double-digit kills, recording 12 and 10 respectively. Davis posted a team-best .391 hitting percentage while Gianna Savarese recorded a percentage of .286 to finish second. Rachel Dubbs led the team with 23 assists and accomplished a tremendous milestone in the fourth set, totaling the 1,000th assist of her career. Alexis Howatt finished just behind Dubbs with 18 of her own.
On the defensive side Dougherty picked up 25 digs to go along with her four total service aces while Laucella ended the night with 10 digs of her own and three service aces. Davis would also post a team-high five blocks while Cleland and Swartout ended the night with two each.
Salisbury returns to action on Saturday, October 21 when it hosts both Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg and Arcadia University in a tri-match. The first match against the Lions is scheduled to start at 12 p.m.