Women Suffer First Losing Skid At Sea Gull Classic

Freshman Regan Cook was a strong presence at the net, going for 24 kills and 8 blocks at the Sea Gull Classic.  (photo by Wayne Gehman)
Freshman Regan Cook was a strong presence at the net, going for 24 kills and 8 blocks at the Sea Gull Classic. (photo by Wayne Gehman)

The EMU volleyball women hit some tough competition over the weekend at the Sea Gull Classic in Salisbury, Md., dropping all four of their matches to slide to 4-5 on the year.  With four contests this coming week, the women look to regain the momentum they had after starting the year 4-1, their best start since 1996.

Virginia Wesleyan 3, EMU 1
The Royals opened the invite with a non-conference contest against ODAC-rival Virginia Wesleyan.  The women continued their recent pattern of playing the Marlins well, splitting the first two sets.  VWC won the opener 25-21 before Eastern Mennonite out-lasted in set two, 28-26.  The Marlins had a convincing 25-14 win to go up 2-1, and then held off EMU for the clincher, 25-22.

Sara Ritchie (Harrisonburg, Va./Turner Ashby) led a balanced attack with 10 kills while Janna Williams (Kenbridge, Va./Kenston Forest) hit a team best .273 for nine kills.  Jasmine Johnson (Staunton, Va./Robert E. Lee) put up 23 set assists with 15 digs.

Libero Katie Miller (San Antonio, Tex./Brandeis) was impressive with 30 digs.  Regan Cook (Staunton, Va./Robert E. Lee) had two solo blocks and two block assists.

William Peace 3, EMU 0
The women took a quick lead on the Pacers, galloping ahead 6-1.  But William Peace settled down and then swing their way to a 6-0 run to jump ahead 16-13.  EMU hung around and fought off two set points before tying the score at 24-24 on a block from Alexa Weeks (Montross, Va./Washington & Lee) and Cook.  But the Pacers put down two quick points to take the set, 26-24.

The decision seemed to take the wind out of the Royals' sails, as their only lead the rest of the night was 1-0 in set three.  WPU closed out with 25-18 and 25-16 wins.

Eastern Mennonite was simply out-hit in the contest, .305 to .063.  Ritchie had six kills while Kayla Smeltzer (Richmond, Va./Maggie L. Walker) had five.  Miller had three service aces and six digs.

Scranton 3, EMU 0
The second day of the classic featured what turned out to be the two best teams, and the Royals found that out quickly with a 25-14 opening loss to Scranton.  The women improved each set in the contest, but fell by decisions of 25-20 and 26-24.

Ritchie led all players with 10 kills along with a solo block.  Cook had six kills and two blocks.  Jasmine Johnson had 12 assists.  Defensively, Miller had 19 digs while Skyler Johnson (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg) was good was 13 digs along with four service aces.

Salisbury 3, EMU 0
The host Sea Gulls didn't cut the women any slack, quickly jumping to a 13-5 lead en route to a 25-15 win.  EMU was within 14-12 in set two before a strong finish gave Salisbury another 25-15 win.  The Royals had a nice run to dig out of an early hole in set three, but the home team responded with a 9-1 streak which locked up a 25-17 decision.

Cook had seven kills in the match while Ritchie had five.  Miller and Skyler Johnson each had 10 digs.

All-Tournament Team
Outside hitter Sara Ritchie was named to the Sea Gull Classic All-Tournament Team following competition, her second straight weekend earning an all-tournament honor.  The senior averaged 2.38 kills and 2.31 digs per set at the classic, including a double double of 10 kills and 10 digs against Virginia Wesleyan on Friday.

Eastern Mennonite heads to Ferrum on Tuesday, with a 7:00pm match against the Panthers.  They return home the following day to take on Southern Virginia.