RALEIGH, N.C. -- After a sluggish start in Thursday's USA South pairing versus the visiting Salem Spirits, the Meredith College volleyball squad held on for a 3-0 (25-20, 26-24, 26-24) victory. The win marked the team's eighth consecutive for an 8-0 league record to lead the East Division.
Meredith had to fight off a tenacious Salem Spirits squad with scrappy defense, long rallies, and a never-give-up attitude. Salem assumed the lead from the beginning, but the Angels chipped away at the deficit with blasts from Ally Copenhaver and Samantha Smith, along with a stuff on the right by Elisabeth Smith and Cathy Delano. Caroline Corey and Avery Bowman contributed to the attack, as the Avenging Angels managed to edge in front at 13-12.
Corey landed a winner from the service line, then dished out an assist to E. Smith to spread the gap to five. MCVB held the advantage through the end of the frame.
Salem reclaimed control early in set two as the Angels struggled to finish a play. Corey finally interrupted the rally with back-to-back winners from the outside, as MCVB cut the lead to three at 10-7. But the Spirits put together a six-point run to shut down Meredith's efforts.
A ball handling error from the visitors led to two more missteps amidst a service ace from Lauren Phillips to allow MCVB to pull back to within five at 16-11. And Delano followed with a kill to jumpstart a 7-1 Meredith series to even the score at 18s.
A serve into the net let Salem back into the mix, and they pushed the score back to a 22-20 visitor advantage. Head Meredith Coach Fiona Barkley called for a timeout, and Haley Reeg responded with a winner from the middle after the break. A kill by S. Smith, followed by another block assist for Delano and E. Smith gave the Angels a fighting chance with a 23-22 lead. But an error at the net left the door open for the Spirits, who pushed the score to 24-24.
Delano found a gap from the middle, and Phillips served up an ace for a thrilling finish in favor of MCVB.
Both teams battled for an advantage in the third set, but neither seemed to gain a clear momentum until Salem put together five consecutive winners for a 22-19 lead. But the home court advantage helped swing the momentum back in favor of the Angels on a Delano kill. Salem was whistled for an error, and Copenhaver and Bowman followed with back-to-back kills from the outside. A Bowman-Delano stuff pushed MCVB back in front 24-22.
Salem countered winning the next two points, but Copenhaver and Corey finished off the set for the sweep.
Corey tied Salem's Christian Ritter with a match-high 19 kills, adding 10 digs. Phillips led the Angels with 19 digs, and Emily Skoglund notched 13. S. Smith posted a 15 dig performance with eight kills, and Bowman led MCVB with 28 assists to go along with five kills. Delano finished with five kills, three blocks, and Reeg tallied nine kills with four blocks in the win.
The team will enjoy a deserved Fall Break weekend off before returning to their home court next Wednesday, Oct. 10, for a battle with rival Averett University.