BY BRANDON STARK
Before Saturday’s match against the University of Mary Washington, the Sea Gulls honored their four seniors, outside hitters Gabby Fox and Nicole Venturelli, defensive specialist Madison Lim and middle blocker Gianna Savarese.
“On and off of the court, [the seniors] have shown a lot of leadership,” SU volleyball head coach Justin Turco said.
On a day dedicated to the seniors and all that they have accomplished in their collegiate careers, the seniors had a chance to reflect on how much they’ve enjoyed being a part of this program for the past four years.
“This is such a strong sisterhood of the best friends I’ve ever had,” Fox said. “I’m so honored to be friends with these girls.”
“It’s been incredible, such an honor to be a part of this team,” Savarese said.
“It’s been the best team to be a part of,” Venturelli said, “I came from a really close team [at Liberty] high school, so coming onto a team like this has been incredible.”
“It completely changed my life being a part of this team,” Lim said.
The seniors’ most memorable moments over the past four years included defeating rival Southern Virginia University, meeting the Pope and going to California for the Pacific Coast Classic this season.
“This year traveling to California, traveling across the country seeing things we’ve never seen before, it was such a great experience,” the four seniors said.
It was at the Pacific Coast Classic where Venturelli would record her 1,000th career kill.
“Sharing that moment with Nicole was super cool,” Fox said. “We didn’t want to distract from the game and we were super excited to announce afterwards that a teammate reached that milestone. Nicole made sure [to say], ‘I couldn’t do it without you guys because there’s someone behind the pass, there’s someone behind the set and there’s a stud athlete behind the kill.’”
All of the seniors alongside Turco enthusiastically stated their belief in the underclassman’s ability to keep the family-like atmosphere and dominant play on the court for many years to come.
They all agreed that the best is yet to come for the program.
Once the game got underway, Salisbury turned their focus from trying to remember all of their great times at Salisbury to trying to defend their home court and defeat Mary Washington.
The first set started out very back-and-forth, with the Eagles eventually jumping out to an 11-6 lead. The Sea Gulls went on a run to try to come back into the game, cutting the Eagles’ lead to 19-16 before UMW surged to a 25-19 first set win.
Salisbury started the second set on a 3-0 run, only for Mary Washington to score five straight to take a 5-3 lead. The Sea Gulls continued to show their heart and grit in the second set, keeping the score close and not allowing the Eagles to jump out to a big lead during the middle stages of the set.
However, the Eagles expanded their lead late in the set leading to a 25-19 second set win.
UMW started the third set on a 3-0 run, only for the Sea Gulls to tie the set up at three. Despite battling to keep the match alive, though, Mary Washington continued their winning ways with a 25-18 win in the third and final set.
Freshman outside hitter Amanda Chew led the team in kills with 11, while also recording an ace and four digs. Junior setter Rachel Dubbs led the team in assists with 15, along with four digs. Junior defensive specialist Hailey Dougherty led the team with 12 digs, also with two assists.
Salisbury (12-7, 1-2 CAC) has already switched their focus to their next game, as they host St. Mary’s (Md.) (12-14, 0-4 CAC) on Wednesday.