KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Sept. 12, 2015) – The atmosphere inside the Liebertz Gymnasium was adrenaline-charged for the volleyball match between rivals Merchant Marine and Coast Guard on Saturday afternoon, with the regiments of both academies crowding the stands and cheering on their squads. It was the host Mariners that came out on top with a straight-set victory over the Bears (28-26, 25-18, 25-20).
It was the first victory for USMMA over Coast Guard since a 3-1 decision during the 1999 season. With the win, Merchant Marine improves to 5-1, while handing the Bears (4-1) their first loss of the season.
Sophomore Dominique Pope (Silver Spring, Md.) matched the match-high with 12 kills, while freshman Brianne Cook (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) contributed with 10 of her own. Sophomore Kayla Gleason (Sound Beach, N.Y.) dished out 28 assists throughout the three sets.
On defense, juniors Darin Zacharias (Virginia Beach, Va.) and Gabby Marionakis (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) and freshman Nicole Ibinson (Fredericksburg, Va.) all had double-digit digs – Zacharias with 14 and Marionakis and Ibinson with 10.
Sophomore Rebecca Snyder (Jacksonville, Fla.) led all players on the day with four total blocks, including the solo block that clinched the victory for USMMA in the third set.
The first set was so close that no team led by more than three points at any time. The score was tied 1-1, 2-2, and on-and-on until 10-10. Coast Guard then went up 13-10 after four-straight points, forcing USMMA interim head coach Alexa Santiago to burn her first timeout. After the breather the Bears continued to stay ahead, with a three-point lead late into the match at 20-17.
The Mariners fought back to tie the score up at 21-21 and this time Coast Guard used its first timeout of the set. The Bears scored the next two points, but Merchant Marine rallied to bring the action to set-point, 24-23 with three straight. Coast Guard called its final timeout of the set and eventually went ahead 26-25 later in the action, before kills by Cook and Gleason and an attack error by the Bears gave USMMA the first set.
In the second set, play was tight again as the set was tied 14-14 midway through. Then the Mariners went on the aggressive and tallied six straight points to open up a commanding 20-14 lead. Merchant Marine went on to take the set 25-18 to go up in the match, 2-0.
USMMA opened up an early cushion in the final set, starting action on an 8-1 run. The Mariners eventually opened up another seven-point lead, 20-13, later in the set. The Bears wouldn't go down without a fight, however, as they climbed back to within three points after a 7-3 run made it 23-20. Merchant Marine clinched the match with a kill by Pope followed by the solo block by Snyder.
Coast Guard was led by senior Ashley Dumont, who registered 12 kills, while classmate Maggie Hine spread out 35 assists. Both Hine and sophomore Summer Adams picked up a match-high 16 digs on the afternoon, and sophomore libero Michelle McGill recorded 14 digs.
Up next, the Mariners will travel to Manhattan on Monday night, Sept. 14, for a non-conference tilt against the Bearcats of Baruch College. Opening serve is set for 7 p.m. at Baruch's Athletics and Recreation Center (ARC). Live stats will be available and can be accessed by clicking here.
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