SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University volleyball team, the No. 2 seed in the Capital Athletic Conference tournament, hosted third-seeded the University of Mary Washington in a CAC tournament semifinal match on Thursday night, defeating the Eagles in four sets, 25-23, 23-25, 25-21, 25-23, in a hard-fought match at Maggs Physical Activities Center.
With the win, the Sea Gulls advance to the conference championship match for the fifth-straight year.
Salisbury started off hot on a 7-1 run, with junior Katie Stouffer putting down her first kill for the match's first point to spark the spurt. She finished the night with a team-high 21.
Stouffer added two more kills in the opening run, while sophomore Rachel Pierson tallied two assisted blocks; she combined with sophomore Samantha Chubb on one and sophomore Sydney Davis on the other.
Two more kills from Stouffer helped Salisbury continue to hold the lead, before Davis put down a kill to make the score 12-6.
The Eagles fought back with a 9-3 run to cut the SU advantage to only one, but kills from Davis and junior Shannon Russell helped bump the lead to 19-16.
Mary Washington would not go away, eventually taking a 22-21 lead, but a kill from Stouffer and a block from Pierson and Davis ended the set for a 1-0 Sea Gull lead.
The second set started and remained close throughout. Salisbury led early on but could only get the edge to three points at 10-7, after kills from Russell and Stouffer.
Mary Washington used a 4-0 run to take its first lead 11-10 and pushed its advantage to 16-12, but the Sea Gulls responded with a 10-3 run to retake a 22-19 lead.
Junior Jordan Lawson led the charge with three kills, after Stouffer sparked the stretch with her own kill.
The Gulls led 23-20, but the Eagles ended the set on a 5-0 spurt to tie the match 1-1.
Three kills to start the third set from Stouffer got Salisbury going again, as the Gulls opened with a 6-2 lead.
She added another kill, before a Davis service ace put the lead at 10-6.
The Sea Gulls continued to control the set, as another trio of Stouffer kills, followed by a Davis kill pushed the advantage to 18-13.
The Eagles again fought back, cutting the lead to 23-20, but Lawson put down a kill to halt the comeback attempt, as the Gulls took the 2-1 lead.
Salisbury again came out strong in the early moments, with a Davis and Lawson block capping a 6-1 opening surge in the fourth set.
After the Eagles tied the set 6-6, two Lawson kills and two Gina Fischetti service aces regained the lead for Salisbury, 10-6.
The Gulls held the lead, as a Pierson service ace put the score at 18-13, but Mary Washington continued to make it a battle with an 8-2 run to take a late lead 21-20.
The Eagles pushed the lead to 23-21, but Stouffer's final kill led a 4-0 closing run for Salisbury to take the win and punch its ticket to the CAC title match.
Russell finished second on the team with 12 kills, while freshman Kelly Surkovich led the defense with a career-high 25 digs. Pierson finished the match with 43 assists and three total blocks.
The Sea Gulls will travel to top-seeded Christopher Newport University for the championship match, after the Captains defeated fourth-seeded St. Mary's College of Maryland in five sets in the other semifinal contest. The title match is set for Saturday, November 7, and the start time is to be announced. Log on to www.suseagulls.com for more information as it becomes available.