Captains Volleyball bounces back with two conference wins after loss to Stockton University to keep their undefeated record in conference play
This last week, Captains Volleyball faced both Southern Virginia University (Oct. 16) and the University of Mary Washington (Oct. 19) in two more highly anticipated matches.
The Captains have already faced both of these teams this season, courtesy of the new format the Capital Athletic Conference adopted for regular season play. With Christopher Newport picking up convincing wins, they looked to do more of the same as they hosted the Knights before driving up to Fredericksburg to play the Eagles.
In the Wednesday night war, the Captains quickly jumped out to an emphatic 14-4 lead, with three of the Knights’ points coming from unforced errors.
The Southern Virginia offense began to correct itself on the fly as they went on an 8-2 run to reel the Captains back into just a four point lead.
Neither of the two teams could find a significant scoring streak with the four point margin being whittled away as the Knights held off a Captains set point before taking their first lead of the match 25-24. But even after being on the end of that metaphorical punch in the mouth, #10 Megan O’Hara responded back with a kill to pull her side back level. With the Captains on the verge of clinching the set, a service error gave the Knights a second opportunity to claim it for themselves. However, #15 Riley Garrison fired off back-to-back kills to put the Captains back on the front foot, closing out the set 28-26.
Unlike in the first set, both teams kept each other close, with the largest separation never growing larger than two points. Both teams suffered from lackluster defense as well as unforced errors, both on the attack as well as behind the service line.
The Knights flirted with a two point lead throughout the first 42 points of the set until the hosts seized back the lead off a tandem defensive effort at the net by O’Hara and #9 Mackenzie Wright, the latter being named CAC defensive player of the week.
The Captains looked to the same duo on the other side of the ball, as they tried to seal off the second set and put a stop to the sub-par volleyball.
Wright and O’Hara found two more kills to give themselves a set point, but were this time denied by freshman #11 Courtney Singleton of the Knights.
Garrison looked to follow in her own footsteps and secure the winning kill once again as she was on the receiving end of a back set from #3 Sammy Carroll, who picked up CAC offensive player of the week accolades. She powered her swing through the Southern Virginia block and down to the floor to cap off the second set.
The third set was tightly contested as well to start, both teams finding their way to nine points each.
The Captains then went on a 13-4 run, highlighted by Carroll who caught the defense napping with a cheeky setter dump, Garrison who smothered the attack with a stifling block and #2 Kayleigh Reagan-Smith who pulled out an ace that was stowed up her sleeve which gave them a nine point lead.
From there, the Captains only gave up two more points as they cruised to a decisive sweep victory on their home court.
The volleyball team then started their weekend with a morning bus ride up to Fredericksburg, Virginia as they looked to come away with another victory against their in-state rivals.
Two weeks ago, the Captains held the Eagles to just 54 total points, the Eagles’ lowest match total against Christopher Newport since 2015, almost four years to the day, when All-American Briana Sutton unloaded 10 kills during a swift three set sweep.
Things once again started off shaky for the Eagles as they only picked up 13 points against the Captains in the first set. O’Hara and #14 Katie Crofford started things strong, picking up five kills in the first 12 points alongside #22 Rebecca Frey who fired off two aces amidst the kills.
Strong defense from Christopher Newport preserved the lead, preventing the Mary Washington attack from fighting their way back into the set. #20 Katie Piper brought the set to a close with momentum heavily in favor of the visiting side.
Through the second set, the contest turned into an offensive focused one for both sides as the teams combined for 29 kills, 13 of which went to Mary Washington, who was slowly but surely piecing together a better second set.
Piper would let seven more kills fly throughout the duration of the second frame, blistering the Eagles’ back line.
A strong 6-2 run by the Captains late in the set pushed their advantage almost to the tipping point as they were set up to only need one more point.
After scoring two last ditch points, the home team succumbed to the pressure being applied by the Captains and gave away the set. As an old saying goes, “no pressure, no diamonds,” and with the Eagles feeling the pressure, they had to respond and create a way back into the match. Led by #4 Peyton Dunow, #8 Krista Rodgers and #12 Savannah Powers on offense, everything seemed to click as they raced out to an eight point lead.
But with victory in their sights, the Captains would not give up so easily, as they attempted to claw their way back from a 19-11 discrepancy.
Four consecutive points was the answer provided in part by the Christopher Newport block. In the end, the lead was too much as the Eagles claimed their first set against the Captains this season.
But after some adjustments during the break, the Captains’ attack nearly tripled their kill total from the third set, notching 16 more against the Mary Washington squad across 44 attacks. O’Hara and Piper combined to see five attacks apiece fall to the hardwood in the process of picking up the fourth set and securing the victory.
The Captains continue their undefeated run in Capital Athletic Conference play, now with a 7-0 record to add to their 19-7 mark on the season.
Christopher Newport will be back in action at home on Oct. 25 as they host the York (Pa.) Spartans on senior night.
~Austin Urch, Staff Writer~