WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Salem volleyball team avenged a three-set setback to William Peace that took place at the Guilford Invitational on Sept. 16 with a decisive sweep of the Pacers on Saturday, Sept. 28 at Varsity Gym by scores of 25-20, 25-22 and 25-20. The win, coupled with a four-set victory over Mary Baldwin earlier in the day, moved Salem to 7-5 overall and 3-0 in USA South Conference action.
Kathryn O'Connell was the primary source of offense for the Spirits in the win over the Pacers, capping off her sixth double-double in 2019 with 13 kills, 10 digs and a .440 attack percentage. Joining her in double-digit kills was Taylor Mouton (10), who enjoyed a .348 attack percentage in the process. Teammate Hannah Delcamp, who recorded 33 assists, piloted the way for a Salem offense that finished with a .288 attack percentage.
Defensively, O'Connell found support from Moulton (eight digs), Anna Schneider (three assisted blocks / two solo blocks) as well as Alexis Sunderland, who tallied nine digs. That combination was integral in limiting William Peace (11-4, 1-2 USA South) to 38 kills and a .153 attack percentage.
William Peace grabbed an 8-1 lead early in the opening set, but a kill from Moulton along with five unforced Pacer errors allowed Salem to trim the lead to 11-10 with Valeria Rosa Lopez in serve. Schneider drove home a kill and Bergin Gillespie committed an error to complete the Salem comeback, knotting the contest at 14-all. Three ties in the next 10 points resulted in a 19-19 deadlock, which was broken on a series of kills by O'Connell, giving the Spirits a 22-20 lead. Moulton put Salem at set point before O'Connell and Schneider teamed on a block to secure the first set victory.
With momentum on their side the Spirits streaked out to a 4-0 lead in the second frame, but William Peace fought its way back into the match behind two slams from Brianna Davis to make for a 9-8 contest. The combination of Moulton and Brooklyn Snow, who made her presence felt on defense as well, allowed Salem to move in front 17-12. The Pacers answered with a 10-5 run of their own, drawing even at 22, but back-to-back kills from Moulton again put Salem at set point. With Moulton in serve, the Pacers committed an error and dropped the second set by three points.
Facing a three-point deficit early in the third set, Snow penetrated the William Peace defense for a kill that put Rosa Lopez in serve as the Spirits rattled off nine unanswered to move in front 11-5. The Pacers countered by scoring nine of the next 14 points, drawing to within two, 16-14, before the duo of O'Connell on offense and Sunderland in serve stretched the Salem advantage to eight, 22-14. Kills down the stretch by O'Connell and Moulton proved to be the difference as Salem extended its winning streak to four straight for the first time since Sept. 29-Oct. 3, 2018.
MATCH 1: SALEM 3, MARY BALDWIN 1
Kathryn O'Connell completed her fifth double-double of the season (14 kills / 14 digs), Taylor Moulton contributed 10 kills and teammate Hannah Delcamp came through with 40 assists to lead Salem to a 3-1 victory by scores of 25-19, 25-16, 16-25, 25-20 in the opening match of the day at Varsity Gym.
The Salem offense, which combined for 53 kills and a .205 attack percentage, also received solid contributions from Anna Schneider and Brooklyn Snow, who tallied seven kills apiece. Defensively, Corrin Shores (eight digs), Alexis Sunderland (eight) and Moulton (seven) helped limit the Fighting Squirrels to 46 kills.
The tightly-contested opening set endured five ties in the first 26 points, including a 13-all deadlock following a series of slams by Mary Baldwin's Michaela Beverly and Rachel Christian. Snow answered with a kill and assisted on a block with Schneider, pushing the Salem lead to 16-14, but the Squirrels would eventually pull even at 16. Three kills by O'Connell coupled with a pair of Moulton highlighted a 6-1 run by the Spirits that resulted in a 22-17 lead. The trio of O'Connell, Moulton and Schneider added kills down the stretch to complete the six-point win.
Facing a six-all deadlock in the early stages of the second frame, Salem took advantage of the service game of Corrin Shores, along with assisted blocks by Delcamp and O'Connell to grab a 10-7 advantage. The three-point lead ballooned to eight, 18-10, with Delcamp in serve, after a series of unforced errors by the Squirrels. Salem capitalized on kills from the combination of Valeria Rosa Lopez, O'Connell and Tricia Brown down the stretch to establish the two-set lead.
Mary Baldwin forced five ties in the first 20 points of the third set, including a 10-all deadlock following a slam by Salem's Brown. The Squirrels answered with an 9-4 run, grabbing a 19-14 lead in the process, forcing a Spirit timeout. Salem answered with a kill by Schneider, but the Squirrels triumphed by nine.
Salem got its offense back on track in the fourth set, using two kills each by O'Connell and Chappell along with the service game of Shores to grab an 8-2 advantage. The Squirrels briefly cut the margin to two, 10-8, but Salem converted four kills and used two unforced errors to forge ahead 17-12, forcing a Mary Baldwin timeout. O'Connell peppered the Squirrels' defense with three kills, while Rosa Lopez added two strikes, to provide Salem with the decisive five-point victory.
The Spirits now head to Averett for a 7 p.m. clash with the Cougars on Oct. 1. For more information on Salem volleyball, check out www.salemspirits.com.