SALISBURY, Md. – For the second-straight season, Justin Turco has led the Salisbury University volleyball team to the best start in program history, breaking last season's 8-0 mark with Tuesday night's 3-2 victory over Johns Hopkins University, improving the team's record to 9-0 so far this season.
Sophomore Shannon Russell kicked off the first set with a service ace for an early lead, but Hopkins took charge to build a five-point lead, 11-6. After a Blue Jay attack error, kills from freshman Alexis Howatt and sophomore Katie Stouffer helped cut the lead to 11-10.
The score was tied, 13-13, by another Johns Hopkins attack error, while a second-straight error and two-consecutive kills from Stouffer gave SU the lead, 16-13.
The Sea Gulls held the lead for the rest of the set, capped off by Stouffer's ninth kill of the game and took a 25-21 victory for the 1-0 lead; she finished the match with a team-high 22 kills.
Salisbury held a 3-2 lead in the second set, after a Stouffer kill, but the Blue Jays quickly took the lead back, 5-4, and never trailed for the rest of the set to tie the match, 1-1.
Hopkins opened the third set on a 12-3 run, but sparked by a kill from sophomore Kirby Given, the Sea Gulls cut the lead to 14-10. Senior Julie Poston hit three kills to power the run that got Salisbury back to within four, while sophomore Jordan Lawson tallied two; Poston also tallied double-digit kills in the match with 10.
However, the Blue Jays never relinquished the lead, taking a 2-1 lead in the match; both the second and third sets finished with 25-18 scores.
Two service aces from freshman Rachel Pierson, helped Salisbury grab a 6-3 lead to begin the fourth set.
Poston followed with a kill, while two Blue Jay ball-handling errors sandwiched a service ace by sophomore Gina Fischetti to push the lead to 10-4.
More Johns Hopkins errors continued to grow the deficit in favor of the Gulls, and with a two-point lead, 16-14, Poston and senior Nikki Binetti hit consecutive kills, while Stouffer followed with two straight, to push the lead to six.
With the help of three-straight Binetti service aces, the Gulls tied the match, 2-2, with a 25-16 win in the set, after a Pierson kill ended the game and force a fifth and final set.
The teams battled back-and-forth in the fifth, trading points to begin the set, but the Blue Jays built a 9-5 lead; after a Hopkins service error and ball-handling error, a Poston service ace and Russell kill tied the set, 9-9.
The score was tied again, 13-13, when Stouffer hit a kill to gain a 14-13 lead. Johns Hopkins tied the score again, but another Stouffer kill, followed by a block by Stouffer and freshman Samantha Chubb, ended the set, 16-14, and won SU the match.
Pierson finished the match with 24 kills to lead the team, and senior Michelle Meehan led the team with 29 digs.
Salisbury takes to the road for its next match, beginning the UMass Boston Invitational on Friday with a 4 p.m., match against University of Massachusetts Boston.