BUENA VISTA, Va. – The Salisbury University volleyball team dropped its Capital Athletic Conference opener to the Knights of Southern Virginia University on Friday evening by the final score of 3-1. It is the Knights first ever victory over the Sea Gulls in the series between the two schools.
Southern Virginia (10-4, 1-0 CAC) raced out to an early 2-0 lead claiming the opening two sets by the scores of 25-20 and 25-18. In the first set the Gulls jumped out to the early advantage taking a 5-1 lead behind three kills from Nicole Venturelli. However, Salisbury (11-6, 0-1 CAC) quickly found itself trailing 17-10 midway through the first set. After the Knights stretched their advantage to 24-15 the Gulls rallied back to pull within four, 24-20, before Hannah Allred hammered home the set winner to put Southern Virginia ahead 1-0.
The second set was much more of a back-and-forth battle as both teams traded points throughout as neither was able to establish much of a foothold. The Knights held a slim 20-17 lead late in the set and were finally able to find their offensive rhythm tallying five of the final six points scored to secure the 2-0 advantage. As a team Salisbury totaled 14 kills but were held to just a .216 hitting percentage while Southern Virginia totaled a hitting percentage of .360 but were held to just 11 kills.
The Sea Gulls managed to get back in the match claiming the third set by the final score of 25-23 in a must win third set. Once again both teams battled back and forth with neither team able to gain a true advantage until Salisbury controlled either teams' biggest lead of the night, five at 21-16, late in the match. However, Southern Virginia would not go down without a fight and pulled within one, 24-23, but Venturelli put away all hopes of a comeback with her fourth kill of the set.
It was not meant to be as the Knights sealed the win in the fourth set with a six-point, 25-19 victory. It was defense not offense in what proved to be the final set that set the tone as neither team totaled a hitting percentage above .140 and no team posted double-digit kills.
Venturelli completed the match with a team-high 19 kills and a hitting percentage of .378, which ranked second. Lacey Swartout finished second on the team as the only other Gull to post double-digit kills with 13 while posting a team-best hitting percentage of .400. Alexis Howatt and Rachel Dubbs combined for 34 of the team's 37 total assists tallying 19 and 15 respectively.
Overall, the Sea Gulls hit .257 as a team, recorded 41 kills, totaled 37 digs, and four service aces.
Salisbury returns to action tomorrow, Saturday September 30, when it travels to Frostburg State University. The match is slated to start at 2 p.m.