WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Kathryn O'Connell recorded 11 kills, 10 digs and seven assisted blocks while teammate Madelyn Chappell added 10 kills and two digs to help the Salem volleyball team earn a four-set victory over visiting Piedmont International by scores of 25-27, 25-18, 25-17 and 25-20 at Varsity Gymnasium on Tuesday, Sept. 17.
Joining O'Connell and Chappell with solid performances on the front row were Taylor Moulton and Anna Schneider, who contributed eight kills each, while Brooklyn Snow came through with seven. The Spirits, who improved to 4-5 with the victory, finished with a .250 attack percentage as Hannah Delcamp handed out 43 assists.
Defensively, the Spirits closed with 16 assisted blocks and six solo blocks due in large part to the combination of O'Connell, Moulton (two solo blocks), Schneider (three solo blocks) and Snow (five assisted blocks). Alexis Sunderland, who recorded nine digs, anchored the back row as Salem limited the Bruins' offense to a .124 attack percentage.
"We have a game plan and when wel execute and follow through it looks like really good volleyball," said head coach Bouaketh Chanthavisouk. "There are times where we still play timid and are not willing to risk a lead or take a big swing. We'll keep working at it to build confidence in our abilities as a team."
The two units reached a five-all deadlock in the opening set, but Salem scored four unanswered with Valeria Rosa Lopez in serve to assume the four-point lead. The Bruins bounced back with an 8-4 run of their own, pulling even at 13, following an unforced error by the Salem offense. The Spirits capitalized on a series of kills by O'Connell and Moulton, assuming a 20-17 lead, but Piedmont International refused to succumb to the pressure and would draw even at 25. A series of kills by Virgillia Jones gave the Bruins the 1-0 advantage with the two-point victory.
Piedmont International took that momentum into the second set, jumping out to a 5-1 lead before kills by Moulton and O'Connell sparked a rally by the Spirits that resulted in a nine-all tie. Delcamp's service game, which included a kill by Snow and a service ace, pushed Salem in front by two, 12-10. The Bruins pulled even, but kills by O'Connell and Chappell coupled with three unforced errors by Piedmont International resulted in a 19-14 Salem lead. Late strikes down the stretch by O'Connell and Moulton, along with a service ace from Delcamp, allowed Salem to pull away for the 25-18 win.
Six kills in the first 10 Salem points of the third set, including two each by O'Connell and Schneider, provided the Spirits with a 10-5 advantage. Schneider and O'Connell continued to find holes in the Piedmont International defense, driving home a series of kills that would lead to a 15-7 advantage. Corrin Shores tacked on a service ace and Moulton added a kill to help stretch the Spirits' cushion to 20-15. Salem closed out the third set win behind two kills from Chappell and blocks from the combination of Snow and O'Connell.
Piedmont International came out of the gate strong in the fourth set, forcing four ties in the first 18 points, making for a nine-all deadlock on an unforced Spirits' error. O'Connell answered with a kill and Chappell drove home a strike of her own, while Snow assisted the pair in forming a front row wall to help Salem establish a 15-10 lead with Sunderland in serve.
Salem's trio of Chappell, Moulton and Schneider stretched the margin to 20-14 deep in the fourth set, before a brief rally by the Bruins cut the deficit to three, 23-20. Salem took advantage of kills by Schneider, Chappel and an assisted block by the tandem of Delcamp and O'Connell to secure the first victory at home this season.
The Spirits return to the court on Sept. 25 when they head to Methodist for a 7 p.m. clash with the USA South Conference foe Monarchs. For more information on Salem volleyball check out www.salemspirits.com.