William and Mary’s road trip to Charlottesville resulted in the first loss of the season. After back-to-back wins at home, on Friday, Sept. 3, the Tribe (2-0) faced Winthrop (1-3). The Tribe took the first set by a slim margin, but lost the next three for an overall defeat.
The Tribe did not lose the lead at all in its first set against the Eagles. Two serves from junior libero Anna Porter resulted in an early lead for the Tribe. Her first serve scrambled the Eagles’ defense and allowed a precise Tribe kill, while the second was an ace. A kill from the Eagles rotated the serve, but the Tribe seized the momentum.
The Eagles managed to keep the first set within three — even tying the Tribe at 15 — but the Tribe kept its foot on the gas. They did not let the Eagles overtake them, rallying hard.
In the first set, the Tribe received three points from service errors on Eagle Nikkia Benitez alone. Later in the set, Benitez pushed the Eagles during the match point, recording matching kills to get within two. However, the Tribe managed to seal the deal on the next point, winning the first set 25-23.
The Tribe hoped their momentum from the early victory would propel them to win the match. In reality, the push for an early win seemed to tire the team out.
The second set started off close. The Eagles managed to keep their lead for the frame, but the Tribe was always close on their heels — two points or fewer behind. However, after the 15-13 mark, where the Eagles narrowly led, a pair of attack errors from graduate student blocker Julia Brown allowed the Eagles to begin a 10-3 run. The Tribe plateaued at 16, and the Eagles claimed a 25-16 victory.
The Eagles kept up their breakneck pace in the third. Again, the Tribe kept it close until the 13-15 mark, where the Eagles ran away with it. And, again, the Tribe couldn’t get above 16. The set even ended with the same score: 25-16.
For the final set, the Tribe managed to unseat the Eagles’ lead early, with a kill from junior setter Kate Van Houten. Despite trailing, the Tribe now led 6-5.
The lead change prompted the Eagles to rally, and they went on a 5-0 run, reclaiming a strong lead. The Tribe caught up to tie it at 13, but the Eagles slowly pulled away. They surged late for an 8-3 run to end the match. They won the last set 25-20. The Tribe faced its first loss of the season.
Double digit kills from Brown and senior hitter Anne Louise Seekford were not enough to get the edge on the Eagles. Benitez recorded 18 kills individually, and she was supported by strong performances around the team as well.
In terms of defense, Porter and Seekford recorded 20 and 12 digs, respectively. Their performances helped the Tribe “tie” the dig stats with the Eagles at 55. The difference, however, was that the Eagles had digs across the team, where the Tribe had five players who contributed one or fewer digs.
The Tribe played another game on their road trip to Charlottesville on Sept. 4, and lost as well, with a current standing record of 2-2. Their next game will be at home in Kaplan, at 6 p.m. on Sept. 10 against Hampton.