WYE MILLS – The young Skipjacks took another step in the right direction Thursday night, celebrating the opening of their new gym by taking a set off CCBC-Essex in a 25-17, 23-25, 25-10 and 25-15 women's volleyball loss.
"It's an all-freshman team and we just have to get used to playing together," said Chesapeake College's Carla Marfe, who led the Skipjacks with nine assists while adding three kills. "We came together in that second set. It felt good to finally win a set even if we didn't win the match."
CCBC-Essex head coach Geoffrey Koger was complimentary of the new gym and Chesapeake's resurrected volleyball program.
"I'm so happy they have a team – we've missed them the last couple of years," said Koger. "It's a great-looking gym – all fresh and new."
While Chesapeake head coach Michelle Dennis said the Skipjacks made "too many unforced errors," both she and assistant coach Brenda Kibler were pleased with the team's competitiveness – particularly in the first two games.
"Most of our players are beginning volleyball players," observed Kibler. "To be competitive against an established team is a definite positive."
Chesapeake started strong, taking a 4-2 lead on a Sydney Butler ace, but the Knights (3-4 overall, 1-2 league) took the lead for good in the opening set as Emily Cherry served five straight points for an 8-4 Essex advantage. The Knights then rode the hitting of Alicia Emmons and Ricelle Taganas – who have five and four kills, respectively – to victory in the opening set despite five service errors.
"We didn't serve well early," noted Koger.
In the second set, Emmons delivered a well-placed, off-speed hit into a hole in the Chesapeake defense to break a 16-16 tie and start a 4-1 spurt that gave the Knights a 20-17 lead. Chesapeake, however, finished the set with an 8-3 run by taking advantage of their guests' errors.
Essex committed two service errors, two hitting miscues and a two-hit violation in the Skipjacks' run. The most impressive play of the spurt was a sensational stuff from Jaelyn Brice to cap four straight points as the Skipjacks (0-3, 0-3) took a 21-20 lead.
The Knights were still within a point at 24-23 after regaining the serve, but Taganas hit a serve into the net to give the Skipjacks their first set win of the year in three matches.
Essex, however, dominated the final two sets. The Knights used a 9-1 run to build a 13-4 lead on the way to an easy win in the third set before reeling off the first four points of the fourth set.
Chesapeake was still within 12-9 after Marfe lobbed the ball over a drawn-in defense and inside the back line. Essex responded with six straight points and never led by less than six the rest of the way in the final set.
Taganas led all players in kills (15) and digs (seven) while Emmons (11 kills, three aces, six digs) did a little bit of everything. Courtney Tripp (six digs) and Danielle Milan tied for game high with 12 assists each.
Butler had a team-high 10 kills for Chesapeake to go with four assists and three aces. Montana Dye contributed four aces.
The Skipjacks were coming off a 25-4, 25-9, and 25-6 loss to Allegany College of Maryland as Danielle Hershiser and Kerrene Shaffer combined for 13 Trojan kills. Taylor Clingerman had a match-high 15 assists for Allegany (5-1, 2-0).
Butler had four of Chesapeake's seven kills and two of the Skipjacks' four assists.
Chesapeake is off until playing a 7:30 p.m. match next Wednesday night at Howard Community College (2-4, 1-1).