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Strong Defense Leads W&M Volleyball Past UNCW, 3-2
Updated: Friday 10/04/2013 (ET)
by Jacob Skipper
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The William and Mary volleyball team pulled off a huge rally Friday night at Kaplan Arena, stiffening at the night and coming back from being down match-point in the third set to rally and defeat UNCW 3-2.  The Tribe improves to 6-12 overall and 1-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association with the win, while the Seahawks fall to 11-6, 0-3 in the league.

Box Score

It was a wild night with 29 ties and 12 lead changes, but fans will be able to point to three possessions in the third set that proved the literal and figurative turning point.  After UNCW had already taken the first two sets 25-17 and 25-22, the Seahawks had two match points in the third, 24-23 and 25-24.  Perhaps rattled by a large and raucous crowd, the visitors committed unforced errors on the serve on both points, fanning the flames of the Tribe's hopes.  The secnd service error led to a thundering block from Kristen Larrick (Bethesda, Md.) and Liz Brown (Ellicott City, Md.) to give W&M a set-point of its own, and on the very next serve Brown spiked the ball for her fifth kill of the set and the win.

In the fourth set, UNCW raced out early trying to reverse the momentum shift wiht an 8-2 run, but the Tribe calmly came fighting back, forcing a series of tied-scores throughout the teens.  The last came at 18-18, before kills from Dessi Koleva (Torrance, Calif.) and Mallory Brickerd (Ashburn, Va.) worked with more UNCW misses to push W&M to set-point at 24-20 before Larrick teed off on an errant Seahawk pass to force a fifth-set tiebreaker.  In the fifth, momentum was firmly lodged on the Tribe's bench, and after an early tie at 3-3, the Seahawks never got closer than two the rest of the way.  Brown had three kills and a hand in a block (with Larrick) in the deciding set, and Koleva finished things off with her 10th kill to clinch another double-double.

Among all the outstanding individual performances that were needed to make the comeback possible, several in particular stood out.  Sophomore Carolyn Albright (Raleigh, N.C.) reached new highs with a career-best 10 blocks, matching them with seven kills and no errors on a .304 attack.  It was tied for the 10th-best single-match performance in school history, and gives Albright 77 blocks on the season, already surpassing her total from last season with at least 13 matches still to go.  Also with a career-high in blocks was Brown, who had seven stops to go with a team-best 13 kills.

The defense away from the net was equally superb, as the Tribe's 109 digs is tied for the 11th-most in program history.  Redshirt-junior Paulette Grand Pre (Laguna Beach, Calif.) led the way from the libero's spot with 28 digs, and senior Celine Alasomuka (Centreville, Va.) had 18 to go with an ace.  Alasomuka now has 1200 digs on the nose, becoming just the fifth player in school history to reach that mark.  Koleva was next with 16 digs, matching them with her 10 kills and three blocks for her seventh double-double of the season, and Brickerd also had a double-double of 12 kills and a career-best 12 digs.  Brickerd also matched her career-high from the service line with a pair of aces.

More notables included the freshman trio of Larrick, Gabrielle Pe (Virginia Beach, Va.), and Paige Lucas (Asheboro, N.C.).  Larrick had 10 kills on a .296 attack, as well as four blocks.  Pe had 11 digs on the night, a figure matched by Lucas who also had 44 assists, two kills, two aces, and two blocks.  With just over a third of the season left, Lucas is on pace for close to 1,000 assists, a mark reached by just one other freshman ever at W&M (school record-holder Sarah Gubler '02).

Friday night's match was also the Tribe's annual "Spike Out Breast Cancer" night.  Over the past few weeks, the team and its fans and supporters raised more than $2,400, all of which will go to Beyond Boobs!, a Williamsburg-area service organization committed to health education and support for those diagnosed with breast cancer.

William and Mary is back in action on Saturday night, taking on league-leading College of Charleston.  The 7 p.m. start from Kaplan Arena will be carried live on TribeAthletics.TV.

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