Salisbury moves on to quarterfinals aftern defeating Eastern 3-2
SALISBURY, Md. – Salisbury made travel plans for Holland, Mich., the site of the NCAA Division III Volleyball Tournament, after defeating Eastern 3-2 on Sunday at Maggs Physical Activities Center.
The win is the program-record 37th this season, and marks the first time Salisbury has ever advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA volleyball tournament.
"I'm pretty speechless," Salisbury head coach Margie Knight said, "We had our backs up against the wall and the fight that we put up in that fifth set, after coming out in the first two sets with a great performance...Now we're holding the trophy and it's just fabulous.
"For our program, unbelievable; for our fans, they were great and it was just a great day, I'm enjoying the moment."
Salisbury blasted ahead to a 7-3 lead, including a pair of blocks from senior captains Chelsea Glowacki and Carley Todd.
"That was a great crowd," Todd said. "They were so pumped and so into it, their energy transferred into us and we pulled through."
The early run prompted a timeout from Eastern head coach Mark Birtwistle, but the pause could not stop the offensive onslaught from the Gulls. Salisbury had two kills from freshman Ashlyn Tapley and another from senior Kelly Vieira pulling ahead to an 11-3 lead before the Eagles (30-6) were able to get another point on the board.
Salisbury's lead grew to 11 points before a block by Vieira and junior Julie Poston finished off the first set at 25-16.
The Eagles bounced back to open the second set, taking a 7-3 lead of their own before Knight called a timeout to settle things down. The Sea Gulls regrouped and made four points to tie the set. Eastern would retake the lead momentarily before a kill by Todd would give the Gulls the lead in the set for good.
Vieira had a pair of service aces in the set to go with six digs as Salisbury pulled away for the 25-19 win.
The third and fourth sets belonged to Eastern as the Eagles took early leads in each set and didn't relent the stretch, winning 25-22 and 25-19, respectively. Eastern held Salisbury to a .111 hitting percentage in the two sets while rallying to tie the contest at two games apiece.
Sunday's match marked just the second trip to a regional final for the Salisbury program, which also did so in 2009, but after pulling ahead 2-0 against Christopher Newport University in that match, the Gulls fell in five sets.
Eastern tallied the first two points of the deciding set. Todd notched a kill off an assist from sophomore libero Michelle Meehan, tying the set at 4 before junior Sarah Hall stepped to the service line. Hall came up huge for the Gulls when they needed it most, serving Salisbury to a 4-0 run, including a pair of service aces.
The Eagles cut their deficit to two points on one occasion, but could get no closer before Mattie Smith closed the match on a kill from Todd, taking the final set 15-9.
Tapley had a match-best 17 kills on Sunday, while Glowacki finished with 11 and six blocks.