William and Mary saved its best volleyball of the season for this weekend, and it could not have come at a better time.
The Tribe (6-6) finished second at the Villanova Classic, stomping over Long Island and stunning Maryland before falling in the championship match to the host Wildcats.
“We played better than we have all season,” Head Coach Melissa Shelton ’91 said. “Our offense was clicking.”
The College came into the weekend on a disappointing skid, but showed a spark after downing Long Island in its first match, 3-0, behind several record-setting performances.
Senior middle Ginny Bray tallied 10 kills and helped on four blocks, making her only the 11th player in school history to notch over 250 block-assists, while sophomore libero Delaney Gordon etched her way into the record books with 20 digs on the night, the 12th most in a three-set match in school history.
But the College struggled early against the more formidable Terrapin squad Saturday morning, dropping the first set 25-21. Rather than keeling over, however, the Tribe sprinted out to an early 8-2 lead behind service from junior outside hitter Lindsay Kresch, who led the squad with 20 kills and a career-high 22 digs.
Senior outside hitter Erin Skipper also collected a double-double with 14 kills and 15 digs on top of a match-high six blocks.
Though the Terrapins clawed back to tie the set 18-18 before a Tribe timeout, a pair of kills from the senior Kresch and multiple Maryland errors helped the College close out the set 25-21, and tie the match at one game apiece.
The College traded the subsequent games, setting up the decisive fifth set. In the final set, the Tribe stole the first four points, before the favored Terrapins tied the set at 7-7. But another College run put the Tribe up 13-9 after a Kresch kill.
Freshman middle Alexandra Ciaccio provided the final dagger, firing an overpass out of the reach of the Terrapin defense to complete the upset.
“We were excited and thrilled, but we shifted our focus immediately to Villanova later that day,” Shelton said.
In the championship match, the outmatched Tribe opened up slowly against Villanova, and faced a quick 17-4 deficit. Undeterred, the College put together a run of its own and came within three points, 21-18, before eventually falling, 25-19. After dropping the second set, a tired Tribe squad fell in the final set, 25-15.
“Villanova is a very good team. We were just a step behind them the entire match. The speed of their game was an eye-opener for us,” Shelton said, “We played hard and gave everything we had, but it just wasn’t enough.”
Following the weekend’s success, the College set itself up nicely to enter the CAA portion of its schedule with some semblance of direction.
“It’s hard to say where we are going into our conference schedule. We feel that we can make the CAA tournament, and we know that any team that makes it can win it,” Shelton said. “We have a long way to go and a lot to improve on — we’ve got our work cut out for us.”