Aug 30, 2013
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- UNC Wilmington's defense limited the Navy volleyball team to a hitting percentage of below .100 over the final three sets to come away with a 3-1 (23-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-19) victory over the Midshipmen Friday night at the Wesley A. Brown Field House in Annapolis. The match, which concluded play on day one of the Kristen Dickmann Invitational, served as the season opener for both teams.
The Mids attempted to separate themselves from the Seahawks in the middle part of the opening set. The teams were knotted at 12-12 when the Mids took a 16-12 advantage. Navy's slight cushion would grow to five points at 18-13, 19-14 and 21-16. The Mids still held slim leads at 22-19 and 23-20 when UNCW scored the next three points to knot the frame at 23-23. A kill by Katie Sylakowski (So., Escondido, Calif.) took the Mids to set point, which they converted on an attack error by the Seahawks.
"We outhit them in the first set," said Navy head coach Larry Bock. "At that time I thought we were going to be able to turn the match into a good ball control game, but they won the ball control contest the remainder of the match and picked up their blocking."
Navy totaled 15 kills and hit .125 in the opening set, while holding UNCW to seven kills and forcing the Seahawks into an equal number of attack errors. Over the remainder of the match, however, the Seahawks would outhit the Mids .270-.098.
The second set also was very close through the middle part of play. The score was tied six times and traded hands twice, with the last exchange coming when UNCW took a 16-15 lead. That point was the third in a run of four straight by the Seahawks. Navy sliced its eventual 17-15 deficit in half, but a 4-1 run by UNCW gave it a 21-17 lead. After one more point by the Mids, the Seahawks tallied the remaining four points in the set.
UNCW took early command of the third and fourth sets, respectively, jumping out to leads of 7-3 in both frames.
"We became real careful and safe," said Bock of Navy's play during the last three sets, "and safe wasn't going to work. Our shots, ball control, setting and blocking; we can't be a team that can afford to be too careful."
Though both teams would notch 49 kills in the match, Navy knocked down 34 kills -- to go against 22 attack errors -- in the last three sets while UNCW generated 42 kills and just 12 attack errors over the same span. Helping the Seahawks to this advantage was their tallying 12 blocks to Navy's 2 over the last three sets (UNCW held a 16-2 advantage overall in the match).
Alex Cassel (Jr., Sandy, Utah) led Navy with 11 kills, while Erin Fortner (Sr., Villa Hills, Ky.) tallied nine kills and 14 digs. Pacing all Mids in the match defensively was Alli Graf (Fr., Annapolis, Md.) with 18 digs.
Five of Navy's seven starters -- including the libero position -- and 10 of the 13 players who took to the court tonight for the Mids were either freshmen or sophomores.
"We were youthful in our level of play tonight," said Bock, "but we will grow up."
UNCW's Christi Laite led all players in the match with 15 kills.
The Kristen Dickmann Invitational continues Saturday with four matches, all of which will be played in the Wesley A. Brown Field House.
11 a.m. - Navy vs. Illinois-Chicago
1 p.m. - UNCW vs. Elon
4 p.m. - UNCW vs. Illinois-Chicago
6 p.m. - Navy vs. Elon