By BRANDON STARK
Featured photo: Junior setter Rachel Dubbs completes a set. Sept. 12. Brendan Link photo
After a heartbreaking loss 3-2 to McDaniel College, the Salisbury University women’s volleyball team had less than 24 hours to regroup and refocus. The Wesley College Wolverines then came to town to test the Sea Gulls.
“[The team] knew at the end of [last night’s] match what we needed to work on,” SU freshman outside hitter Amanda Chew explained. “[The team knew] how much we needed to change and get that mentality that we are going to refuse to lose. I think we really implemented that tonight, making every single point count and not getting down, at any point, on ourselves.”
SU senior outside hitter Nicole Venturelli saw the back-to-back contests as a benefit to the Sea Gulls, especially with a loss in the first match.
“I think that [playing back-to-back] affected our team in a positive way, especially coming off of a loss,” Venturelli said. “It is pretty dangerous coming up against us coming off of a loss because we knew we had something to prove.”
Banding together with the Sea Gulls this season is a new face in Chew, who brings explosive offense with a winning mentality to the program this season. In her high school career, she won two Maryland 3A state titles in three seasons at Northern (Calvert) High School. As a freshman, Chew has started all but one of the Sea Gulls’ games this year.
“At first it was very different. The competitive level is just so much higher than what I was used to,” Chew said. “I think [my teammates] really helped me mold into it. Having [my teammates] be so competitive from the start to end of every point helped me improve myself.”
From the first set, Chew continued her strong play of late with two early kills to give SU the 2-0 lead. From there, the Sea Gulls’ offense lit up the court, quickly jumping out to a 23-10 lead over Wesley. Venturelli got the final kill to win 25-11 in the first set in dominating fashion.
Wesley jumped out ahead 2-0 in the second set, forcing Salisbury to come from behind early to regain control. Unlike the first set, the Wolverines showed resilience in the second set. However, the Sea Gulls eventually broke free to win the second set 25-16. Salisbury clinched a 2-0 lead in the best of five series.
Salisbury found out in the third set that beating the Wolverines in straight sets is a lot easier said than done. The Sea Gulls jumped out to an early 12-2 lead over Wesley, causing the Wolverines to use a timeout.
Afterwards, Wesley turned on their fifth gear and made a run at it, leaving everything out on the court. Wesley scratched and clawed their way back into the game, cutting Salisbury’s lead down to 23-20. Despite this, Salisbury eventually got the final two points to complete the sweep in straight sets and put the Sea Gulls back into the win column.
“I think every single player on our team is very competitive and has a lot of fire,” Venturelli said. “Shout out to our freshmen. They are doing great, keeping practices really competitive. [Our team] has some really strong players. Every player on our team holds value.”
Venturelli and Carley Cleland led the Gulls in kills with 10 apiece, followed by Chew and Gianna Savarese tallying five kills each. Rachel Dubbs led the team once again in assists with 21.
Salisbury (7-3) will travel to Neumann University for the annual Knights Invitational on Friday, where they will take on the Catholic University of America (7-2) and home side (6-4). The Sea Gulls will not return home until Wednesday, Sept. 26, hosting Virginia Wesleyan University (5-3).