By BRANDON STARK
Featured photo: Senior outside hitter Nicole Venturelli (foreground) awaits a serve from McDaniel College along with junior defensive specialist Hailey Dougherty. Sept. 11. Olivia Rowland photo
Coming into the matchup, the Salisbury University women’s volleyball team had been heating up the court, with a five-match win streak and only two losses on the year. During the streak, the Sea Gulls had defeated four consecutive opponents in straight sets and won 15 out of 17 sets played during the run.
McDaniel College came in with a two-game win streak and only a single loss on the year, coming on the road at the University of Mary Washington. Before their only loss of the season, the Green Terror had their own five-match win streak in which they never lost a single set.
With two strong teams entering Maggs Physical Activities Center Wednesday night, it set the stage for an entertaining matchup that would live up to the hype.
The match’s first set saw a very back-and-forth battle for points between the Sea Gulls and the Green Terror. The set’s largest lead was only three points. Down 3-1 early in the first set, Salisbury fought back with contributions from freshman outside hitter Amanda Chew and senior middle blocker Gianna Savarese.
Salisbury came out of a McDaniel timeout up 23-22 after high-paced action. Winning two straight points, Salisbury won the first set with Savarese, clinching the set-winning kill for the Sea Gulls.
The second set of the night was where misfortune began to strike the Sea Gulls. McDaniel came out strong in the second set, scoring the set’s first point and quickly jumping out to an 11-4 lead.
McDaniel had two five-point runs in this second set, while Salisbury’s longest run was three. After leading for a majority of the second set, the Green Terror finally clinched the set, winning 25-16 to even the best of five series at one each.
Salisbury’s stars shined the brightest in the game’s third set. The Sea Gulls came out strong with Chew getting the first kill of the set. Salisbury quickly jumped out to a 13-6 lead.
“It was just a matter of resetting,” SU Volleyball Coach Justin Turco said on his team’s third set resurgence. “In volleyball, you start at zero in every set.”
Chew and Savarese led the way again alongside assistance from teammates Carley Cleland, Nicole Venturelli and Hannah Sullivan. As Chew recorded the final point of the set, the Sea Gulls won 25-18 to take a 2-1 set lead into the fourth installment of the night.
To open up the fourth set, Dubbs got a serving ace as things looked hopeful for the Sea Gulls. McDaniel then came back to score three straight points, eventually taking a 5-2 lead. As the teams battled again, McDaniel survived the fourth set, winning 25-22 to force a final deciding set.
In contrast to the tight sets most of the night, the Green Terror jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the final chapter. Valiantly, the Sea Gulls tried to fight back, but McDaniel won points and never looked back, to win the set 15-6 and the match 3-2.
“We don’t quit,” Coach Turco said. “[Our team] has 17 on the roster and all 17 are in the regime. [The players] are supportive to everybody, wins or loses, so I know that [the players] are going to come in and work hard and that’s not going to slow us down.”
Chew led the Sea Gulls in kills with 17 by the end of night, while Savarese was second on the team with 11 kills. Cleland contributed 10 more. Junior setter Rachel Dubbs aided throughout the night, assisting on 35 of the Sea Gulls’ 47 kills.
In a short turnaround for the Sea Gulls (6-3), they host a familiar opponent in the Wesley College Wolverines (1-6) Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m. This is Wesley’s first season as a member of the newly-formed Atlantic East Conference after departing from the CAC at the conclusion of the last academic year.