Smith sets career-high, Stouffer named MVP as Gulls take down No. 8 Juniata and win Sea Gull Classic

Smith sets career-high, Stouffer named MVP as Gulls take down No. 8 Juniata and win Sea Gull Classic

SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University volleyball team concluded the Sea Gull Classic on Saturday, playing two five-set matches; the Sea Gulls fell in their first match against Bridgewater (Va.) College (26-24, 18-25, 25-17, 21-25, 16-14) and defeated No. 8 Juniata College in the final match of the tournament (23-25, 25-21, 25-22, 21-25, 15-13) at Maggs Physical Activity Center.

Salisbury (20-4) was named the tournament champion, while freshman Katie Stouffer, named the tournament MVP, and junior Kirby Buttry were voted to the all-tournament team.

Salisbury 3, Juniata 2

Junior Mattie Smith led the Sea Gulls, setting a career high with 20 kills, in the victory over Juniata, and Stouffer reached double-digits, as well, with 13.

The entire match was close, as the largest margin of victory of any set was only four points; after falling in the first set 25-23, the Sea Gulls rebounded to win the next two.

With the score tied, 2-2, in the second set, a kill by junior Julie Poston, who registered 10 in the match, started an 8-3 run to give the Gulls a five-point lead.

Smith and Stouffer both tallied kills in the run, as well.

SU continued to keep its lead between three and five points, allowing it to have a late, 21-16, lead, but a 4-0 run by Juniata (20-2) cut the Sea Gulls' lead to only one.

After a Juniata service error, Smith hit two more kills to help close the set and tie the match, 1-1, for Salisbury.

Kills by Smith and Poston grabbed the Sea Gulls an early 2-1 lead in the third set, and despite Juniata keeping the set close, Salisbury was able to hold the lead until the teams were tied, 15-15.

Juniata built an 18-15 lead from there, but some Eagle attack errors, along with two kills from Smith and a service ace from Stouffer, spurred a 10-4 Sea Gull run to take the third set.

The match was forced to a fifth set with Juniata grabbing the fourth to tie the match, 2-2.

Trailing 9-8 in the final frame, junior Nikki Binetti scored two-consecutive kills, and Stouffer followed with two of her own, to give the lead back to the Gulls, 12-10.

The Eagles were able to put together one last run to grab a late 13-12 lead and put the pressure on Salisbury, but the Sea Gulls answered with a kill by Smith, followed by a block by Poston and senior Tam Weems, before a Juniata attack error would seal the match for SU.

Junior Michelle Meehan led with 16 digs, and freshman Gretchen Vandermeer had the team lead with 24 assists in the match.

Bridgewater 3, Salisbury 2

Salisbury started the day, falling to Bridgewater; the Gulls won the second and fourth sets to force a fifth set, but Bridgewater eventually came out on top, winning the fifth, 16-14.

Smith started her strong day by leading the team in the match with 14 kills and was the only Sea Gull to eclipse 10, while Stouffer and Poston both chipped in with nine each.

SU took control in the second set, with the score tied, 12-12, by going on a 13-6 run that included two kills from Poston and one each from Smith, Stouffer and Buttry to take the set and tie the match, 1-1.

Salisbury held a 13-10 lead in the third set, but Bridgewater was able to make a 10-1 run to gain the lead and push it to, 20-14, before gaining a 2-1 lead in the set.

With the score tied, 18-18, in the fourth frame, two kills by Binetti and one each from Smith and Buttry powered a 7-3 run to help Salisbury tie the match and force the fifth set, before falling in the final frame.

Vandermeer tallied 24 assists to lead the team, while Meehan tallied 16 digs.

The Sea Gulls will return to action on Wednesday, as they play host to Marymount (Va.) University at Maggs PAC for a Capital Athletic Conference clash, set for 7 p.m.

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