Volleyball storms ahead with two big wins

The Captains won a CAC game and an exhibition against Washington and Lee

The Captains Volleyball team celebrated their five seniors on Friday, Oct. 25, as they faced off against York College in Capital Athletic Conference action. With the first and second seeds for the post season tournament already secured by Christopher Newport and the University of Mary Washington respectively, the Captains set their sights on the York Spartans, one of only two sides to take a set off Christopher Newport during conference play in their previous meeting this season.

The match started off close for the first few points as both teams went back and forth trading blows before the Captains strung together four consecutive points capped off by an ace from senior #20 Katie Piper which handed them a five point lead just 13 points into the set. The Spartans brought the score back even at 16 each, as York went on a seven to two run to challenge the Captains. Quick to respond, #3 Sammy Carroll was an instrumental part of the next three points as she caught the York side off guard with a setter dump sandwiched in between two kills from #15 Riley Garrison, another senior on the squad. The Captains would tack on four of the final five points, only giving one away off a service error to close out the first set 25 – 20.

Looking to continue and display more of their offensive prowess, Christopher Newport rattled off six points in a row for an early advantage. 

Spearheading the attack was #14 Katie Crofford as she picked up three aces during that run, bringing her total to 48 this season, the highest single season total of her four year career here at Christopher Newport University. The Captains would then jump out to an even larger lead, almost bringing it to double digits off three unforced errors by York as well as an ace out of Piper. 

Carroll also wanted in on the action from behind the service line as she would also pick up an ace in the second set. But it was the defense that won the final points of the set as Garrison and #10 Megan O’Hara quieted the Spartans attack with a pair of blocks.

The tables would take a turn in the third set as York would try to pick off another set from the hosts in a similar fashion to when the found success in the third set during the previous match up. It would be the Spartans who found an early advantage, extending the lead to as much as five at one point. But with the Captains keeping York within striking distance, it was only a matter of time before they responded. And the response was an emphatic one, an avalanche of points built up as the Captains hit their stride on a 15 – 4 run, regaining the lead in the process, and completely nullifying any momentum that the Spartans had manufactured for themselves in the set. The squad looked reinvigorated on the court as they were firing on all cylinders. 

The offense and defense put on an impressive display limiting the visitors to only one earned point during the hot streak, the other three coming from Captains service errors. Garrison would pick up one last block as she closed out the match, as she earned the Captains’ seventy fifth and final point of the evening. Christopher Newport would get some rest before they hosted Washington and Lee University the following afternoon. 

York College looked to halt their losing skid as they too would face the Generals in an early morning matchup.

The Captains would take the lead against Washington and Lee next before falling behind again off an eight to one streak by the Generals. Offensively, the Captains were struggling to get something of significance on the board. 

There were a few points here and there, but the stat sheet was marred by nine attacking errors in the initial set alone, which equaled their total for the rest of the match. Piper and O’Hara would piece together a few kills with other members of the front row, but they would be unable to find a way back in the first set and ultimately fell 25 – 22.

Things started to get worrying for Captains fans as Washington and Lee started the second set with a run of five unanswered points. But led by CAC defensive player of the week, #9 Mackenzie Wright, the Captains jumpstarted their attack and equalized immediately, being on the other end of a five point streak. 

Christopher Newport would drop the next points but would quickly gain their first lead of the day by grabbing eight of the next nine points with #2 Kayleigh Regan-Smith picking up an ace in the process. 

Looking to regain their footing, the Generals tried to pull even but fell two points short before Christopher Newport turned on the jets as Crofford and O’Hara each rocketed two kills past the defense, Wright and O’Hara teamed up to earn two blocks, as well as an ace from Piper to close out the set.

Both sides made their way out through the first 16 points with eight each to their names before Garrison created some separation off a quick set through the middle by Carroll. Piper racked up two more kills with an ace from Crofford after each of them as the Captains threw six more points on the board. 

The Generals would pick up three of their own before once again Piper would erupt with a pair of kills on route to another run of six unanswered points stretching the lead to double digits. 

Wright and the Captains were more than content to trade points in order to score the final few needed to capture the third set as it was O’Hara and Garrison who powered the last two hits inside the lines to bring the Captains 25 points away from claiming the match.

Washington and Lee would find themselves in front by a score of 17 – 16 but Piper had other plans. She blasted two swings through the defense for her 17th and 18th kills of the contest, which marks her highest total of the season. 

With a four point lead late in the fourth set and victory in their sights, a Washington and Lee kill bookended by two unforced Captains errors brought the Generals back within one. Wright fired off another kill which brought her side to within one of clinching the match, but another service error looked to be costly and had the Generals right on their heels. Provided a good set from Carroll, Garrison would once again be the player called upon to close the set, and this time the match. 

The two would successfully connect for a kill for the first time in the fourth set as Garrison sealed the match with a hard hitting kill through the middle of the Washington and Lee defense. Throughout the contest, Piper played exceptionally, matching the number for most digs (17) and earning the highest tally of kills (18) across both teams.

Looking forward, the Captains will seek to close out the regular season conference play undefeated as they host Salisbury University on Nov. 1 as part of the CNU Invitational which will also feature matches against Virginia Wesleyan University and Averett University the next day.

~Austin Urch, Staff Writer~

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