HARRISONBURG, Va. – The Salem volleyball team wrapped up the opening day of action at the Route 42 Classic, co-hosted by Eastern Mennonite and Bridgewater, with a split following a three-set win over Wilson (25-15, 25-19, 25-18) and a setback to Bridgewater (25-19, 25-15, 25-15) on Friday evening in Harrisonburg, Va.
Match 1: Salem 3, Wilson 0
Kathryn O'Connell drove home 10 kills and recorded 13 digs, while Taylor Moulton and Madelyn Chappell added seven and six kills, respectively, helping Salem open the season with a 25-15, 25-19, 25-18 victory over Wilson in the first match of the tournament.
O'Connell was efficient throughout the match, finishing with a .750 attack percentage, leading the way for the Spirits' offense that combined for 36 kills. Hannah Delcamp quarterbacked the Salem attack with 22 assists, while teammate Valeria Rosa Lopez added 12 digs.
Salem established itself early, jumping out to a 13-4 advantage in the first frame behind three kills from O'Connell and a pair of Chappell. Wilson answered by scoring six of the next nine points, trimming the margin to six, but strikes by O'Connell and Rosa Lopez provided Salem with a 20-13 lead. The Spirits surrendered just two points down the stretch, while capitalizing on a service ace by Rosa Lopez and a kill by Anna Schneider to complete the 10-point win.
Facing a 7-5 deficit in the early stages of the second set, Salem capitalized on the service game of Corrin Shores to gain an 11-7 advantage and force the first Wilson timeout of the frame. Shores forced the Phoenix into committing four unforced errors, while converting a service ace en route to the four-point lead.
Maintaining at least a three-point cushion over the next 10 points, the Spirits lead grew to 23-18 following a series of kills by Rosa Lopez and Chappell. Salem allowed just one final point, a service error, before assuming the 2-0 lead in the match on a slam by Rosa Lopez.
The third set opened in similar fashion to the second, as the two units traded points, before Salem eventually grabbed a 12-8 lead behind two service aces from Rosa Lopez and kills from O'Connell and Moulton. The Spirits' offensive tandem of O'Connell and Emily Massing combined for three kills in a four-point stretch to extend the lead to 21-13. Wilson sliced the deficit to four, 21-17, but two kills from Moulton and one off the hand of O'Connell proved to be the difference in the seven-point triumph.
Match 2: Bridgewater 3, Salem 0
Taylor Moulton highlighted the Salem offensive attack with nine kills, while teammates Brooklyn Snow and Valeria Rosa Lopez contributed six kills apiece, but it was Bridgewater's Rachel Gaston (15 kills, nine digs) that proved to be the difference as the Eagles emerged with a 25-19, 25-15, 25-15 victory.
Hannah Delcamp, who handed out 15 assists and accounted for nine digs, Kathryn O'Connell (10 digs) and Corrin Shores (eight digs) also came through with solid performances for the Spirits, who slipped to 1-1 on the season.
Bridgewater assumed an early 7-2 advantage in the first set, following four unforced errors by the Spirits, but Salem bounced back with kills by Moulton and O'Connell to make for a 12-9 contest. With Taylor McNeely in serve, the Eagles stretched their lead back to five, 20-15, and overcame kills down the stretch by Moulton and Anna Schneider to complete the six-point opening set win.
O'Connell was the difference early in the second set for Salem, accounting for one kill and two unforced errors by Bridgewater as the two teams reached an early four-all deadlock. However, McNeely again proved to be a difference maker as she helped the Eagles run off five consecutive points and assume the 9-5 advantage.
Bridgewater eventually stretched its lead to 19-10, following a kill by Hope Jennings, and overcame two kills from Moulton and a slam by Snow down the stretch to complete the 10-point victory.
Two kills each by Moulton and Snow allowed Salem to draw even, 10-all, through the first 20 points of the third set. Bridgewater pieced together an 8-4 run, highlighted by three kills and three unforced Spirit errors, to forge in front 18-14. A late kill by Delcamp trimmed the Eagle lead to 20-15, but that would be Salem's final point as Bridgewater tallied the final five points of the match.
The Spirits return to the court on Saturday, August 31, for a series of matches against Delaware Valley (10 a.m.) and Eastern Mennonite (2 p.m.) to conclude the Route 42 Classic.