NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A successful season for the Gallaudet University women's volleyball team came to a close Friday night as the Bison lost their first round match of the 2011 NCAA Division III tournament by a score of 3-1 at the hands of former Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) foe Salisbury University. The two teams split the first two sets before the Sea Gulls closed out the match 25-17, 23-25, 25-13, 25-13 at the Freeman Center on the campus of Christopher Newport University.
GU (28-8) was competitive in the first set, but never had a lead as Salisbury (32-3) controlled the action for the most part. Both sides appeared tentative at the start, as there were several unforced errors and uncharacteristic mistakes made, but the Sea Gulls hung on to win 25-17.
In the second set, the teams went back and forth throughout, before the Bison got back in the match with a much-needed 25-23 victory. GU had the momentum entering the third set but that was quickly squashed when the Sea Gulls scored 10 of the first 11 points. The Bison appeared to suffer an emotional letdown and could not muster the same energy they displayed in the second set. Salisbury would increase its lead 20-5 en route to the 25-13 third set win. GU posted a zero hitting percentage after an 8-for-27 performance to go with eight attack errors.
Salisbury rolled in the fourth and final set to the same outcome, 25-13, as the Sea Gulls jumped out to a 13-4 lead. GU cut the lead to nine, 18-9, but ran out of time near the end to mount a comeback and force a fifth and decisive set.
Freshman and North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Rookie of the Year Kali Frowick (Norfolk, Neb.) led the Bison with 11 kills and 12 digs, her 10th double-double of the season. Right behind her was junior Jessica Israel (Frederick, Md.) with 10 kills and a .421 hitting percentage to go along with two block solos. Junior outside hitter Ann Whited (Fishers, Ind.) made six kills, eight digs and two service aces for the Bison.
Junior Mari Klassen (White Rock, British Columbia) led the defensive effort with 20 digs and two service aces. GU's lone senior Paige Johnson (North Richland Hills, Texas) showed an inspired effort on both sides of the court in her last collegiate match, racking up 17 digs and eight kills. Freshman setter Sarah Tubert (Burbank, Calif.) passed 33 assists in the loss.
Salisbury's Sam Seifert had a game-high 16 kills and 10 digs, while teammate Michelle Meehan had a game-high 23 digs.
GU had 38 kills and 30 errors on 160 attempts in the match (.050 percentage), the lowest hitting percentage of the season. The big difference in the match was Salisbury limited their attack errors. The Sea Gulls had 47 kills and just 13 errors on 142 attempts (.239 percentage).
This was the GU's second straight NCAA tournament appearance and eighth overall. GU drops to 3-8 all-time in the NCAA tournament. This was Gallaudet's fourth appearance in the NCAA tournament under the guidance of Head Coach Lynn Ray Boren, now in his seventh season.
Salisbury advances to the second round on Saturday, where they will face the host Captains of Christopher Newport University (34-4), ranked No. 7 in the nation.
Salisbury, ranked No. 3 in the Mid-Atlantic region, won the CAC title with a 3-0 win over Stevenson University, ranked fourth in the Mid-Atlantic region, last Saturday at home. This is Salisbury's seventh NCAA tournament appearance, its first since 2009, where the Sea Gulls are now 4-6 in tournament play. Gallaudet and Salisbury were two of the 42 conference champions that were awarded automatic bids into the 2011 championship field, as GU won the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) title for the second year in a row.
The Sea Gulls increased their lead in the all-time series with Gallaudet to 28-26, dating back to 1981. Salisbury has won the last six meetings, four by shutout. Gallaudet last defeated Salisbury, 3-2, on October 18, 2007, on the road.
The winners of Saturday's two second round games will play Sunday for the regional championship and a chance to move on to next weekend. The other Saturday match at CNU will feature Randolph-Macon (24-5) against No. 2 Emory University (35-4). The winner of the regional will advance to the women's volleyball championship finals hosted by Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., on November 18-20.