WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.— Four Salem players topped double-digit kills, including Taylor Moulton and Madelyn Chappell who finished with a team-high 15 each, but Averett rebounded from dropping back-to-back sets to claim the fifth and a 25-18, 26-24, 23-25, 19-25, 15-10 victory at Varsity Gym in USA South volleyball action on Tuesday evening.
Trailing 2-0 in the match and 7-1 early in the third set, Salem (11-10, 7-5 USA South) clawed its way back into the match by virtue of six kills, including two from Chappell, and a service ace by Corrin Shores to make for a 16-14 contest. A timeout by the Cougars (14-11, 10-1 USA South) was not enough to derail the Salem offense, which trimmed the lead to one before Averett eventually moved back in front 22-18. With Anna Schneider in serve, following a Chappell kill, Salem used a pair of assisted blocks to assume the 23-22 lead. Kills down the stretch from the duo of O'Connell and Chappell proved to be the difference in the Spirits' two-point triumph.
Salem carried over the momentum from the third set victory into the fourth, breaking an 11-all tie with a series of unforced errors by the Cougars to snag a two-point advantage. Powered by kills from Schneider, Chappell and Brooklyn Snow in succession, Salem put together an 8-2 run and moved in front 19-13. Averett managed to trim the lead to three, 19-16, but two kills by Chappell coupled with strikes by O'Connell and Moulton to complete the six-point victory.
The two teams battled to four ties in the first 10 points of the fifth, including a five-all deadlock, before Averett rattled off three straight to move in front 8-5. Salem called a timeout to regroup and received a pair of kills from Moulton to remain within three, 10-7. Despite kills from the trio of Scheider, Moulton and Snow down the stretch, the Cougars completed the fifth-set victory for their second win of the season against Salem.
While Chappell and Moulton shared the team-high honor in kills, Chappell finished with a .389 hitting percentage, the best of any Salem hitter. She finished two kills off her single-match career-high in kills (17), which came as a freshman at Guilford on Oct. 5, 2016. It also marks Chappell's best hitting percentage of the season in a match with at least 10 attacks. The pair were joined in double figure kills by O'Connell (11) and Snow (10) as Salem tallied 62 kills as a unit.
Hannah Delcamp established her single-match season-high in assists (51) and capped off her sixth double-double of the campaign with 10 digs. Moulton, who came through with a match-high 18 digs, and O'Connell (10 digs) were also responsible for double-doubles in the match.
Corrin Shores eclipsed double-digit digs (10) for the first time since her single-match season-high 15 digs against N.C. Wesleyan on Oct. 5. Chappell also made her presence felt on defense for the Spirits with three assisted blocks.
Averett streaked out to an 8-2 lead in the opening set and never looked back. The Cougars maintained at least a six-point lead throughout the remainder of the set, taking advantage of four kills each by Lauren Montren and Madison Dadez. Salem was unable to find its offensive rhythm despite 12 kills, including four from Moulton.
The Spirits turned the tides in the second set, assuming an 8-3 lead of their own, due in large part to six points in serve by Delcamp and two kills each from Mouton and Snow. The Salem lead ballooned to 18-9, following slams by Moulton and Snow, but Averett came through with a 15-6 run to pull even at 24-all. With Myka Patterson in serve for the final seven Averett points, Morgan Barnes drove home two kills to complete the rally and 26-24 Cougar victory.
The Spirits make the short trip to Greensboro on Saturday, Oct. 26, to compete in a tri-match with N.C. Wesleyan and the host Pride. The first match for Salem begins at 4 p.m.