MILWAUKEE, Wisc. – The fourth-seeded Salisbury University volleyball team will play for a Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference (C2C) championship after steamrolling the Mills College Cyclones, 3-0 (25-7, 25-9, 25-11), in the C2C Tournament quarterfinal round and upsetting the top-seeded and 18th-ranked UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs, 3-1 (26-24, 25-23, 26-28, 25-20), in the semis on Friday afternoon at the Bloechl Center on the campus of Mount Mary University.
The Sea Gulls will now face the second-seeded Christopher Newport Captains in the C2C Tournament championship match on Saturday afternoon. First serve from Milwaukee is slated for 2 p.m. EDT (1 p.m. CDT).
HOW IT HAPPENED vs. MILLS COLLEGE
- After conceding the first two points of the match, the Sea Gulls came roaring to life with a 13-0 run to go up 13-2. Natalie Uibel and Jenna Feinauer got things going with back-to-back kills and combined for seven of SU's kills during the long run. Hannah Sullivan also delivered a pair of service aces.
- The Cyclones found their footing until the 19-7 mark, at which point a service error gave the ball back to Salisbury and the Sea Gulls converted the next five points to finish off the set. Sullivan, Angelina Casserly and Amanda Chew each had kills in the run, and Ella Franks landed two aces, including the set-clincher at 25-7.
- The second set began in similar fashion as MC's Madison Mimoun landed a kill to put the Cyclones up 1-0, but the Sea Gulls answered with the next nine to seize control. This time it was Chew's turn to shine; she executing three kills, including the one to finish off the run and boost the SU lead to 9-1.
- Already leading 14-4, the Sea Gulls went on another 4-0 run thanks to three MC errors and a Hannah Einbrod kill. SU then scored five more in a row at the 18-6 mark, including a kill from Jackie Mitchell and back-to-back aces for Claudia Sweitzer, making it 23-6.
- The Cyclones rallied for three of the next four points but it was too little, too late, as Chew iced it at 25-9 with a kill.
- Down 3-1 early in set three, Salisbury again kicked it into overdrive, netting six points in a row and 13 of the next 14 to surge ahead 14-4. Grace Rail controlled the serve for the latter half of the run and hit a jackpot with four aces.
- The Cyclones showed grit but could only keep pace and never truly threaten SU for the rest of the set. Casserly got it to set point at 24-9 with a kill, then after a pair of MC points, Uibel finished the job by landing the match-clinching kill, putting away set three at 25-11.
SALISBURY GAME NOTES
- Natalie Uibel led the way with eight kills for a balanced Sea Gull attack that saw nine attackers combine for 36 kills. Uibel's .667 attack percentage was tops on the team.
- Amanda Chew and All-C2C First-Teamer Jenna Feinauer each contributed six kills, while Angelina Casserly and Jackie Mitchell netted four kills apiece.
- Ella Franks and Claudia Sweitzer combined to set up 25 SU kills, with Franks tallying 13 assists and Sweitzer 12.
- C2C Defensive Player of the Year Darian DiMatteo earned a team-high seven digs on the back line, while Second-Team All-C2C pick Hannah Sullivan added six digs of her own.
- Grace Rail dealt out four service aces, all in one serve rotation in the third set, to account for the bulk of the Sea Gulls' 14 aces. Sullivan recorded three aces, while Franks and Sweitzer turned over two each.
- The Sea Gulls swung .368 for the match and held the Cyclones underwater with a -.074 attack percentage, finishing off their opponents in just 53 minutes.
MILLS GAME NOTES
- Madison Mimoun's seven kills were tops for the Cyclones, as were her 11 digs.
- Noely Bautista led MC with nine assists.
HOW IT HAPPENED vs. UC SANTA CRUZ
- The teams traded two points each to open up the first set, then the Banana Slugs scored three in a row, riding two Lauren Bliss aces to go up 5-2. Salisbury got a pair on kills from Natalie Uibel and Darian DiMatteo to get back to within 5-4 but stayed a point or two back of UCSC for the first half of the set.
- UCSC opened up a 17-13 lead on a kill from Isabella Hoglund, at which point the Sea Gulls made their move. Angelina Casserly landed a kill to win back the serve, then SU cashed in on an Ella Franks setter dump and a pair of Banana Slug errors to knot it at 17-17.
- The teams traded back-and-forth blows through the rest of the set, engineering tie scores at 18, 20 and 22. Jenna Feinauer landed a kill to put the Sea Gulls up 23-22, but UCSC answered with a kill from Samantha Taylor and earned set point at 24-23 after an SU error.
- A Banana Slug service error kept SU alive and an attack error from Claire Okerlund flipped set point to Salisbury. The Sea Gulls took the gift and ran with it as DiMatteo set up Amanda Chew for the winning kill, icing the first set for SU at 26-24.
- Down 6-3 early in the second set, the Sea Gulls scored four of the next five, tying it at 7-7 on a Franks ace. The teams stayed in lockstep until 13-13, when back-to-back strikes from Audrey Gilbert spotted the Banana Slugs a 15-13 lead.
- A UCSC attack error opened the door for the Sea Gulls, who barged through for a 7-0 run. Casserly notched two kills in the run, including the capper to boost the SU lead to 20-15.
- The Banana Slugs answered with four of the next five, shrinking the hole to 21-19 after an SU attack error. Salisbury in turn answered back with three of the next four, riding a Casserly kill to set point at 24-20. Three straight Sea Gull errors brought UCSC back within 24-23, but Uibel righted the ship and finished off a feed from DiMatteo to put it away for Salisbury, 25-23.
- Backs against the wall, Santa Cruz opened strong in the third set, building a 12-7 lead on an ace from Giovanna Martins. Uibel answered with a kill for SU and sparked a five-point rally, bookending it with another kill to tie the set at 12-12. Feinauer posted up for a solo block and block assist with Franks during the run.
- Up 17-16 later in the set, the Banana Slugs gave themselves some breathing room with three in a row, taking a 20-16 lead as Bliss set up Gilbert for a kill. Undaunted, the Sea Gulls scored the next three in a row, knotting things at 20-20 off a Hannah Sullivan ace.
- The teams stayed fused together from 21-21 all the way through 26-26, with SU fighting off three set points in the process. The fourth time would be the charm for UCSC, though, as Okerlund blasted back-to-back kills to win the set at 28-26 and extend the match.
- The Sea Gulls scored the first three points of the fourth set, all on Banana Slug attack errors, but UCSC found its footing and soon tied it at 6-6 on a block from Taylor and Peyton Tazelaar. Much like the first three sets, the fourth stayed tight early on with Salisbury nursing a 11-10 lead about midway through.
- At that point the freshman Uibel took control, landing a kill and dealing back-to-back aces to put SU up 14-10 and force a Santa Cruz timeout. Another Banana Slug error made it 15-10 Salisbury, but the top seed again rallied to cut it to 16-14.
- Salisbury went on a 4-1 run to rebuild the lead to 20-15 after a block from Casserly and Sullivan. The Sea Gulls soon after lead 23-18, and Caitlyn Edman brought SU to match point at 24-18 with a kill. UCSC netted two more points as a last gasp, but DiMatteo set up Edman for the final dagger, capturing the set and match for SU, 25-20.
SALISBURY GAME NOTES
- Natalie Uibel turned in the finest all-around performance of her young career, leading the Sea Gulls with 14 kills to go along with 15 digs and three service aces. Uibel matched her career highs in all three categories and clocked her first career double-double.
- Amanda Chew registered her third double-double of the season with 12 kills and 12 digs. She swung at a .379 clip, only committing one error in 29 attempts.
- Angelina Casserly reached double digit kills with 10 against just one error, while Jenna Feinauer landed eight kills.
- Ella Franks narrowly missed a double-double with 25 assists and nine digs, plus a pair of aces. Blair Pausic added 15 assists of her own.
- Darian DiMatteo eclipsed 20 digs for the eighth time this season and fourth time in her last five matches, notching a team-high 21 digs. DiMatteo also recorded a season-high seven assists, setting up the clinching point in all three of the Sea Gulls' set victories.
- Salisbury totaled 54 kills on the match and swung at a team rate of .221. The Sea Gulls' eight blocks were responsible in part for the Banana Slugs' paltry .170 team attack rate.
UC SANTA CRUZ GAME NOTES
- C2C Player of the Year Claire Okerlund recorded a match-high 17 kills but also committed a season-high 11 attack errors, swinging just .109 for the contest.
- C2C Rookie of the Year Samantha Taylor turned in 15 kills and 15 digs.
- Sinead Beaupain served up 25 assists, while Lauren Bliss contributed 24 assists of her own.
- Giovanna Martins led the Banana Slug back line with 22 digs.
- The Sea Gulls will do battle with Christopher Newport for the third time this season in the C2C championship match on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. EDT (1 p.m. CDT). The Captains outlasted third-seeded Mary Washington in the second semifinal, winning 3-2 (25-20, 14-25, 17-25, 25-18, 15-11).
- The two teams split their regular season series, each winning on their opponent's home floor. CNU dispatched Salisbury, 3-1, at the Maggs PAC on Sept. 18, while the Sea Gulls returned the favor, 3-1, at the Freeman Center on Oct. 29.
- Salisbury will play in its first conference championship since 2015 as it seeks its ninth conference title in program history and its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2013.
Salisbury University is a proud member of NCAA Division III with primary membership in the Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference, along with the New Jersey Athletic Conference for football and the Metropolitan Swimming and Diving Conference for men's and women's swimming. With over 500 student-athletes in 21 varsity sports, SU is recognized as one of the most competitive intercollegiate athletics programs regardless of division, and dedicated coaches and staff that foster excellence on-and-off the field. The Sea Gulls have celebrated 22 team national championships, 24 individual national champions, 184 conference championships and 41 Academic All-Americans.
To learn more about the tradition of excellence with Sea Gull Athletics, visit www.SUSeaGulls.com or on social media @SUSeaGulls.