VWU Fends Off Impressive Roanoke Squad

Amber Matalus
Amber Matalus

VWU Fends Off Impressive Roanoke Squad

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- The No. 3-seeded Virginia Wesleyan University volleyball team withstood multiple blows from an upset-minded No. 6 Roanoke College team, ultimately defeating the Maroons in a five-set match that lasted over two hours.

The Marlins downed Roanoke 23-25, 25-22, 26-28, 30-28, 15-12 on Wednesday night in the ODAC Quarterfinals.

Neither team gained much of an edge in the match with the largest set victory being a three point margin.

The Marlins led the first set 22-16, and later 23-19, with eyes on closing out the opening set and swinging momentum to the hosts. Roanoke rallied with three-straight kills to cut the deficit to one. A pair of attack errors sandwiched an Olivia Earls service ace to complete the spurt. Ultimately, Roanoke closed the set on a 6-0 run to take the opening set.

The second set went back and forth as well with Roanoke leading 21-20 late. Three-straight points put the Marlins up by two. The Maroons stopped the brief run, but kills from Amber Matalus and Doneisha Hall evened the match at a set apiece.

Roanoke led most of the third set before the Marlins battled back to tie it at 21. The Marlins continued to score, getting kills from Lauren Topper and Ashley Bologna, along with a Roanoke error, to bring up set point at 24-21.

The Maroons fended off three set points to tie the contest at 24. The Marlins earned two more set points later in the third, but the Maroons continued to fend them off, five in total for the third set.

Trailing 26-25, Roanoke received a kill from Logan Graves to tie it up. Kills from Meagan Smith and Kylah Blackmore pushed the Maroons over the top.

Roanoke led most of the fourth set, looking to spring the upset with a 25-24 lead. A loud Virginia Beach crowd forced a service error to even it at 25. The squads exchanged the next six points to force a 28-all tie. Another Roanoke service error brought up set point for VWU. Emilee Pierson stepped to the line and served an ace to force a decisive fifth set.

The Marlins led most of the fifth set, holding a narrow 13-12 edge after Roanoke managed to break serve. Topper finished off an Allison Mackley assist to bring up set point. Matalus, one of the most consistent Marlin hitters on the evening, posted the final kill to secure the semifinal berth for VWU.

Alex Wolfe and Sydney Daniel had 14 kills each for Roanoke (9-16) while Christen Zammit registered a match-high 55 assists.

Matalus posted 16 kills on a .389 hitting percentage to go with 18 digs for VWU. Pierson tallied 32 assists and 23 digs to go with 35 digs from Mackley.

No. 3 Virginia Wesleyan (19-9) will face No. 2 Washington and Lee University (23-9) on Friday night at Randolph-Macon College. As the highest seed remaining, No. 1 Randolph-Macon (21-6) will host the remainder of the tournament, facing No. 5 Lynchburg (19-7) in the other semifinal.