Sea Gulls battle back from two sets down to topple No. 15 Juniata

Sea Gulls battle back from two sets down to topple No. 15 Juniata

HUNTINGDON, Pa. – The No. 23 Salisbury University volleyball team opened up play at the Juniata Invitational at Juniata College on Friday night with a 3-0 win over Carnegie Mellon University before coming from two sets down to top the host, No. 15 Juniata, in five sets.

The victory against the Eagles marks Salisbury's first win against a ranked opponent since a five-set win against No. 17 New York University on Sept. 10, 2011.

Juniata took a 3-1 lead to start the match and led by as many as five in the first set. Salisbury would tie things at 20-20 before the Eagles pulled away for the opening set, 25-23.

The second set was tied 17 times, and saw five lead changes, before Juniata would claim a 30-28 victory.

But the two-set lead was not enough to put Salisbury away. The Eagles (9-5) took a 9-7 lead early in the third set before senior Kelly Vieira ripped a kill that started a 5-0 run, allowing the Gulls to take an 12-9 lead.

Juniata would retake the lead one more time, 16-15, but an Eagle service error, followed by kills from senior Jenna Shay and freshman Ashlyn Tapley put the Gulls' lead back to two.

Salisbury would close the set on a 6-0 run, which included two Vieira service aces, to force the fourth set.

Vieira would finish the match with four service aces to go with 14 kills and just one attack error.

Salisbury (16-1) carried its momentum from the third into the next set, starting the frame on a 7-2 run. Salisbury's lead would grow to six, 16-10, on an ace by sophomore Michelle Meehan, but the six-point edge would not grow any more.

A 6-0 spurt by Juniata tied the set, but Salisbury would turn around and get kills from senior Carley Todd, Vieira and Tapley to retake the lead and would not allow the Eagles to tie the set again.

Juniata got to within one, 24-23 before senior Chelsea Glowacki took a quick set from Todd and put away the set-winning point. Glowacki posted a match-best 15 kills.

The fifth set remained close early, neither team leading by more than two, until Salisbury got a solo block from Todd, one of her three rejections on the night, to lead 8-5.

Salisbury had one final run, a 5-0 spurt, which gave the Gulls a commanding lead. Salisbury was helped by a pair of Juniata ball handling errors in the stretch and kills from Vieira and Todd to lead 13-6.

A few points later, it was Vieira, who had her first effort at match point dug by the Eagles, putting away a kill on a slide set from Todd to end the match. Todd finished the day with 39 assists.

In their first match of the day, the Sea Gulls claimed a three-set win against Carnegie Mellon, taking the first two sets by scores of 25-20 and finishing off the win, 25-18.

Salisbury opened up a 7-3 lead and stretched its advantage with a 4-0 spurt, which included kills by Tapley and Glowacki, along with a service ace from Meehan, to lead 12-5.

Glowacki had six kills in the first set, on just nine attempts, and would finish with a match-high 12 kills on a .450 hitting percentage. Tapley had six kills in the match along with a pair of aces.

The Sea Gulls maintained their lead throughout the opening set, pulling ahead by as many as eight before holding on for the five-point win.

In the second, Salisbury fell behind 2-0 before a 7-2 run allowed the Gulls to not trail for the rest of the set. The Tartans would tie the frame at 15 and 17, but a kill by Vieira, off an assist from Todd, sent Salisbury on a 5-0 run and a 21-17 lead. It was a Todd kill, from Meehan, that sealed the set and the 2-0 lead.

The Sea Gulls never trailed in the third after opening on a 4-0 run and adding a 7-0 spurt later in the set to roll to the win and set up the meeting with Juniata in the nightcap.

Salisbury will take on Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham and Franklin & Marshall College on Saturday as they close out the tournament.

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