DANVILLE, Va. – Kathryn O'Connell recorded nine kills while Anna Schneider and Brooklyn Snow added eight each, but it was the Averett trio of Sarah Shropshire (16 kills), Lauren Montren (15) and Morgan Barnes (11) that proved to be the difference as the Cougars emerged with a 23-25, 25-21, 25-15 and 25-16 victory on Tuesday, Oct. 1.
The four-set loss halted the Spirits season-long four-match winning streak despite double figure digs from the trio of Taylor Moulton (13), Valeria Rosa Lopez (12) and Hannah Delcamp (10). Delcamp capped off her fourth double-double of the slate with 29 assists.
Averett (7-9, 4-0 USA South) established an 8-5 lead early in the opening set, but a series of kills by O'Connell and Delcamp, along with a block from the pair, helped the Spirits forge ahead 11-9. With Alexis Sunderland in serve, Salem (7-6, 3-1 USA South) stretched its lead to four, 16-12, but five unanswered points by the Cougars quickly followed. The two units battled to five ties, including a 23-all deadlock, before a series of kills by Schneider provided Salem with the two-point win.
The Cougars held an 8-2 advantage in the second following a pair of kills from Shropshire and Montren. O'Connell and Moulton countered with two kills each for the Spirits, slashing the lead to three, 11-8. However, Averett put together a 7-3 run, forcing a Spirit timeout, which resulted in two kills from Moulton as the lead dwindled to two, 20-18. Three unforced Salem errors, along with a kill by Madison Dadez helped Averett even the match at 1-1.
Salem regained its offensive form from the opening set, storming out to a 6-1 lead behind a series of kills from the tandem of Snow and Chappell. The Cougars scratched their way back, using a kill by Montren to put Dadez in serve. That tandem helped Averett grab a 16-10 lead as Montren recorded four slams along the way. The Spirits managed just four points down the stretch, while Averett countered with three kills, including two from Shropshire, to complete the 11-point win.
With momentum on its side, the Cougars snagged a 13-8 lead in the fourth despite a pair of kills by Snow. The Spirits trimmed the deficit to four, 14-10, but Averett came through with three kills and capitalized on five unforced errors to assume a 22-14 lead. Despite slams down the stretch from Schneider and Snow, Averett completed the four-set win.
The Spirits head to Rocky Mount, N.C., to compete in a tri-match against host N.C. Wesleyan and Greensboro at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., respectively, on Saturday, Oct. 5. For more information on Salem volleyball check out www.salemspirits.com.