By Zach Gilleland
They say there is no place like home.
The Salisbury University women’s volleyball team returned to Maggs Gym Friday, defeating Marymount University in three sets.
In front of an electric crowd, the Sea Gulls (15-6, 4-1) played their first home game in over a month. Salisbury had its work cut out for them as Marymount (17-6, 4-1) came into Friday’s matchup riding a seven-game winning streak.
The Sea Gulls were unable to create separation from the Saints early in the first set. However, errors cost Marymount valuable scoring chances, allowing Salisbury to take advantage.
The crowd provided momentum for Salisbury as the teams played deeper into the set. Big offensive plays from sophomore outside hitter Nicole Venturelli, senior outside hitter Katie Stouffer and junior middle hitter Sydney Davis propelled the Sea Gulls to a 25-22 win in the first set.
The second set was another close affair for the Sea Gulls. Salisbury found itself down late, but a dig from senior defensive specialist Shannon Russell kept the play alive and a kill from Davis gave the Sea Gulls a late lead.
Venturelli added two more kills, sending Salisbury to another 25-22 win in the second set. She led the team offensively with 10 kills and provided two assisted blocks on the defensive side.
“We knew [Marymount’s] tendencies, we watched their film in other games and took notes on it to simulate that in practice,” Venturelli said. “In practice we really worked on our shots. With them, they have really big blocks so we had to work on our shots around the block.”
Being down two sets, the Sea Gulls knew the Saints would come out aggressive in the third set.
But it was Salisbury that ended up being the aggressor.
Kills by Stouffer and senior middle hitter Jordan Lawson gave the Sea Gulls an early lead. Salisbury later increased their lead to 10, causing Marymount to call a timeout to regroup.
“I told them to be the aggressors,” head coach Justin Turco said. “We were in position, we were doing everything right to not let up and be the aggressors on the court. [We tried] to be more aggressive than they were going to come out.”
The stingy Sea Gull defense thwarted a late Marymount comeback attempt to prevail 25-19 in the third set. The final kill from junior middle hitter Samantha Chubb sent the crowd into a thunderous applause, happy for a Sea Gull victory.
The ability to keep the play alive and finish strong seemed to be the difference in the match for Salisbury. The Sea Gull defenders were not afraid to dive for digs, running out of play for balls and dishing it to the outside to allow for the spike and win key points off rallies.
“We just kept persevering, when the energy is high and the game is really exciting you just want to keep playing and you don’t think, you just go for the ball,” Russell said. “We just kept going and eventually we won a lot of the long rallies which was key.”
Leading the defensive effort were Russell and senior defensive specialist Krista Pecenka, who provided 11 and 10 digs respectively. The Sea Gulls held the Saints to just 28 kills on 112 attack opportunities.
“It’s good to get a win against any conference opponent. The players worked really hard this week and they did everything well on and off the court,” Turco said. “[We had] a really competitive week of practice. When you get a 3-0 win against any team, it’s really good—especially against a good team like Marymount.”
Next up for Salisbury is a Capital Athletic Conference matchup against St. Mary’s College on Saturday to finish off their home stand this weekend.