BY BRANDON STARK
Featured photo: SU setter Rachel Dubbs makes a diving play to keep a ball alive. Oct. 17. K.B. Mensah photo
Salisbury came into Wednesday night’s matchup against a long-time CAC opponent from across the Chesapeake Bay, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, looking to get back on track after their loss to the University of Mary Washington this past Saturday.
“What is so great about this team is that [whether we’re coming off of] a bad loss or a big win, we come in on Monday morning ready to work just as hard,” SU junior setter Rachel Dubbs said. “Everyone on this team works incredibly hard. It’s not just one player, it’s the whole team.”
This match is slated on the schedule as possibly SU’s final home match of the season. Salisbury would only return home again if the squad clinched one of the top four spots in the conference. The top four teams are set to host the upcoming CAC First Round.
In the match Wednesday night, SU freshman outside hitter Amanda Chew opened Salisbury’s account in the first set, only for the Seahawks to jump out to an early 3-1 lead. From there, St. Mary’s would maintain their lead for the rest of the set. The Sea Gulls tried to battle back, but the Seahawks further increased their lead over Salisbury, leading to a St. Mary’s victory in the first set 25-18.
For the Seahawks, it was a surprisingly dominant start. St. Mary’s came into the contest winless in the CAC.
The Sea Gulls started the second set by quickly jumping out to a 3-0 lead ,which quickly increased to 11-3. St. Mary’s would not go down without a fight, cutting Salisbury’s lead to 22-20 late in the second set. Salisbury bounced back to score the next three points to win their first set of the night 25-20 over St. Mary’s.
“We didn’t have the start that we wanted to, but we were able to turn that around really quickly,” SU senior outside hitter Nicole Venturelli said.
SU continued their dominance over St. Mary’s in the last two sets, winning the third set 25-18 and fourth set 25-19. The Sea Gulls’ dominance really showed in the fourth set, where Salisbury started the set scoring eight consecutive points and 12 out of the first 13.
After falling in the first set, Salisbury powered through to win the next three sets for the 3-1 victory, solidifying fourth place in the conference at a 13-7 (2-2 CAC) record.
“We definitely still have things to work on, like most teams do, but we’re in a good mindset now. Coming off of a win gives us a boost of confidence,” Venturelli said.
The setters had their chance to shine tonight as both juniors Kiana Bopp and Rachel Dubbs ended the game with over 20 assists and 10 digs each.
“The setter position I honestly think is the hardest position to play,” Venturelli said. “The setter is involved in every single play.”
Dubbs credits her success at the position with the excellent coaching staff, including former Sea Gull setter Alexis Howatt.
“Alexis is one of my closest friends, I was so lucky to play two years with her,” Dubbs said. “She is such a talented athlete and Colette [Kellen] has been such a great mentor. It’s great having a coach with the same position [as myself] and Coach [Turko] is such an awesome coach.”
Like Bopp and Dubbs, Chew also had a successful night, registering 10 kills and 13 digs. Venturelli led Salisbury with 16 kills, along with seven digs and three blocks. Savarese led the team with eight blocks alongside eight kills. Dougherty led the team with 24 digs and four service aces.
The Sea Gulls travel to Newport News, Va. for their next matchup against No. 22 Christopher Newport University (18-4, 4-1 CAC) Saturday afternoon.