#20 Katie Piper leads Volleyball to victory

Captains Volleyball gains sole possession of first place in conference standings as Piper registers season high kill tally (17) against the Eagles of Mary Washington

Christopher Newport hosted to “rivalry weekend” last Saturday when the University of Mary Washington took a trip down from Fredericksburg to face the Captains in volleyball as well as men’s and women’s soccer. The contests started off with the two volleyball teams squaring off against each other, which in recent memory has always been a thrilling matchup, with each team picking up three wins in the last six meetings. However, this time around, the home team dispatched the Eagles in a swift three set victory to remain undefeated in conference play.

To start the first set, the Eagles were able to pull the first couple of points out of the Captains’ hands but then #20 Katie Piper blasted a kill off a set from #3 Sammy Carroll, which would be a frequent occurrence across the afternoon, for Christopher Newport’s first point. After some back and forth action which left the score tied at six apiece, Piper and #15 Riley Garrison rattled off four consecutive points to force the Eagles into using a timeout. 

Mary Washington clawed back and were able to half the deficit before the Captains found their rhythm once again, this time creating a five point spread and in turn, forced the remaining timeout from Alex Hinsey, the Eagles’ head coach, in an attempt to reel in the Captains before they took the first set. But the Captains also took some time to talk over their next few points, looking to close out the set. Mary Washington only would earn four more points in the set as the Captains would go on a roll to finish the first set 25 to 17.

Christopher Newport started the second set stronger than the first and were able to grab the first three points off the arm of Piper before an unforced error allowed the Eagles to get their foot in the door. That eventually allowed Mary Washington to tie the score this time at eight. Some heroic defensive efforts by the Eagles back line birthed them their first lead of the set. 

Mary Washington would manufacture an advantage, maintaining it for the next 14 points, but #10 Megan O’Hara made her presence known with her precision swinging from the front row to regain the lead. Behind #12 Savannah Powers of Mary Washington, the Eagles tied the score back up at 18, setting up a close contest down the home stretch. The Captains would pull back a three point advantage once again, resulting in a time out. A Captain crossed over the net’s plane to give a point back to the opposition but would quickly bounce back to wrap up the second set 25 to 22.

The Eagles had to make some adjustments to try and slow down Piper who was having quite the successful night and would go on to earn more than doubled the next highest number of kills on her team during the match. But with the Eagles picking up more and more points across the sets, the Captains would also need to make some alterations, either by changing up who the attack flows through or cutting back on unforced errors to stop giving points away. But with #2 Kayleigh Reagan-Smith notching two aces from behind the line, once again the Captains were off to a strong start, winning the first four points. Christopher Newport would grab a commanding early lead as #22 Rebecca Frey would put her skills on full display burying yet another ace in the Eagles back line. Ultimately, she would have four aces across the three sets brining her season total to 36. The lead would fluctuate up to 12 with the Captains holding a firm grasp on the match. 

The Christopher Newport defense would not allow the Eagles an opportunity to fight their way back into the contest through a combination of digs and strong tandem blocks. 

Carroll finished the contest with 38 assists, her seventh highest tally out of 21 matches over the course of the season. Piper registered 17 kills, her highest total of the season while also hitting over 44 percent. #9 Mackenzie Wright along side O’Hara would each pick up 3 blocks. O’Hara also did not make a single error on the attack for just the third time this season.

~Austin Urch, Staff Writer~

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