SALISBURY, Md. – On a night that the Salisbury University volleyball team moved a step closer to a first-round bye in the Capital Athletic Conference tournament with a 3-0 league win against Southern Virginia University, senior Shannon Russell hit a milestone with her 1,000th career dig.
The Sea Gulls (19-7, 7-1 CAC) played strong defense throughout the match, allowing the Knights (7-15, 2-6 CAC) to hit just .060 for the match, while the Sea Gulls hit .317, including a stellar .536 in the opening set, a 25-13 victory.
The Gulls jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead in the opening set, with four-straight kills to kick off the match. Senior Jordan Lawson notched the first kill before a pair from classmate Katie Stouffer, and the fourth from junior Sydney Davis.
Three of the kills were set up by freshman Rachel Dubbs, who finished the match with 36 assists. The kill that gave the Gulls a 4-0 lead was one of five in the opening set for Davis, who scored 11 kills in the match.
Salisbury never relinquished the lead in the opening set, closing things with six-straight points, including another Davis kill, and one each from junior Samantha Chubb and sophomore Nicole Venturelli. Venturelli scored three late kills in the set, garnering four in the set and 12 in the match.
The second set was the closest of the day, with six ties and five lead changes, all coming early in the set. After the Knights opened up a 13-10 lead, Salisbury clawed back with kills from Lawson and Stouffer, paired with a Southern Virginia ball-handling error, which tied the set at 13-13 and prompted a timeout from the visitors.
The stoppage did not slow Salisbury, which continued its run to a 16-13 lead and went on for a 25-19 win on the strength of four kills each from Stouffer and Davis and another three apiece from Lawson and Venturelli.
The final set was finished with the same score of 25-19, but in it came the milestone dig for Russell. Just moments after freshman Hailey Dougherty stepped in front of Russell for dig, bringing a gasp from the Salisbury bench, which was waiting for the moment, Russell stopped an effort from Emma Evans for the 1,000th dig of her career, becoming just the 16th Sea Gull to reach this plateau.
The dig came during a rally with Salisbury already ahead in the set 14-8, and while the Knights would cut the Salisbury lead down to two points at one point, they could get no closer.
Russell finished with a match-high nine digs, and now sits at 1,001 for her career, while Stouffer tallied 14 kills in the contest. At the net, Davis had five block assists and Lawson recorded four.
Salisbury will host Frostburg State University in the Sea Gulls' regular season finale on Saturday, October 29, in a match beginning at 2 p.m. With a victory, the Sea Gulls would secure a top-two seed in next week's CAC tournament and a first-round bye.