KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Nov. 7, 2019) – The #2-seed U.S. Merchant Marine Academy women's volleyball team flipped the script from last year and defeated #3-seed Mount St. Vincent in an exciting five-set match in the Skyline Semifinals on Thursday night inside the Liebertz Gymnasium. This is the third-straight year that the Mariners played the Dolphins to a five-set marathon at home in the Skyline Championships, as USMMA won in the finals in 2017 and lost in the semis last season.
With the exciting 25-12, 20-25, 25-23, 19-25, 20-18 victory, Merchant Marine's record improves to 20-6, while CMSV ends the season 20-10.
Freshman Paige Smith (Virginia Beach, Va.) set a new career-high in kills as she led all players with 26, while also registering a double-double with 21 digs. The rookie also served up three aces and put down six blocks (two solo and four assisted) throughout the evening. In the second set, senior Nicole Ibinson (Fredericksburg, Va.) picked up her milestone the 1,000th-career dig, and she finished the night with a match-best 23.
Sophomore Taylor Gilbertson (Phoenix, Ariz.) also added a double-double effort with 13 kills and 10 digs, while senior setter Kyleigh Kappas (Parker, Colo.) dished out 49 assists and dug up nine. Sophomore Cadee Fromm (Enid, Okla.) added five kills and a match-high nine blocks (two solo and seven assisted), while classmate Juliet Vendl (Colorado Springs, Colo.) had four kills and led all players on the night with five service aces. Fellow sophomore Shelby Bowman (Redmond, Wash.) chipped in with five kills.
The two teams traded wins over the first four sets, with the Mariners winning first and the Dolphins answering back. In the decisive fifth-set, there were a total of 10 tied scores and four score changes. USMMA worked up a 9-5 lead, but Mount St. Vincent fought back to tie it up with four-straight points. After the Mariners responded with two-straight, the Dolphins grabbed the next three to take a 12-11 lead and force Merchant Marine to burn a timeout.
Out of the break, the Mariners scored three of the next four to force match-point, 14-13, and it was CMSV who then called a timeout. The Dolphins scored two-straight to be on the brink of victory, 15-14, but USMMA answered right back. That happened three more times, as CMSV had a chance to close it out a total of four times in the fifth set, but the Mariners showed resiliency and kept battling, eventually winning the set and match on three-straight points closed out by back-to-back blocks by Fromm and Smith twice for the final two points.
The Dolphins were led by senior Dez Brown, who recorded 17 kills, while classmate Tara Maloney added 16 and sophomore Samantha Schroeder had 10 as part of a double-double with 11 digs. Sophomore setter Madison Gale also had a double-double with 45 assists and 15 digs, and junior libero Alexandra Rio picked up a team-high 18 digs.
The Mariners will look to claim their second Skyline Conference Championship in three years this Saturday evening, Nov. 9, when they travel to take on top-seeded Manhattanville, which won their semifinal match over #4-seed Farmingdale State, 3-2, on Thursday night. The Skyline Championship Final match will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday at the Valiants' Kennedy Gymnasium. Live links to follow along will be available on the USMMA Women's Volleyball Schedule Page.
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