VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Despite taking the first set, the Randolph College volleyball team dropped the next three to host and Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) rival Virginia Wesleyan University on Friday evening.
With a close score in the opening set, Randolph managed to break away with a 10-7 edge before the Marlins capitalized on two attack errors committed by the WildCats to tie the set at 10-all. However, Randolph pushed a 5-2 run to pull ahead, 15-12, and send Virginia Wesleyan into a timeout. Coming out of the break, the Marlins fired off four unanswered points to jump ahead, 16-15, but a 3-0 run by Randolph, capped off by a service ace from Kennedy Webb (Nassawadox, Va./Northampton), placed the WildCats back in the lead, 18-16. Randolph was able to stay ahead of the Marlins, though Virginia Wesleyan managed to rope the score to 22-21 but back-to-back kills by Taja Hunley (Dalzell, S.C./Thomas Sumter Academy) pushed Randolph to match point (24-21) before Autumn Troxell (Front Royal, Va./Warren County) delivered the set winner to seal the final 25-21 tally.
Although Randolph collected the first point off a kill by Meghan Chaffins (Temperancevile, Va./Holly Grove Christian), the Marlins responded with a 5-0 run to take the lead. However it would not last long as four unanswered points delivered by Randolph tied up the score. The teams would trade the next few points before Virginia Wesleyan fired off four unanswered points to grab a 12-8 edge, forcing the WildCats into a timeout. The Marlins continued to to extend their lead as the set progressed, eventually settling on 23-15 margin. The WildCats capitalized on a Virginia Wesleyan service error to cut the score to 23-16 but it would not be enough as the Marlins delivered the final two points to take set two, 25-16.
The third set played out in a similar fashion to the previous set with the Marlins taking the lead early on before pushing their advantage all the way to 10-4. After Randolph took a brief timeout to regroup, the WildCats slowly started to chip away at Virginia Wesleyan's lead, cutting the margin to 13-11. However it would be the closest Randolph would get as the Marlins extended their lead to a comfortable 22-15 margin before clinching the final 25-16 tally with a 3-1 push.
The fourth set began in favor of Randolph as the WildCats stormed ahead with an 11-2 burst that was capped off with three consecutive kills by Troxell. Randolph managed to push its lead to 13-5 before the Marlins responded with an 11-0 run for a 16-13 edge, taking the lead for the first time in the set. The WildCats fought to reclaim their lead but would only cut the deficit to 24-20 before Virginia Wesleyan delivered the 25-20 set winning kill to seal the match victory.
Troxell recorded a double-double 12 kills and 18 digs for the WildCats. Ambrose added nine kills, to go along with 10 digs, while Hunley finished the night with six kills. Kennedy Webb notched a season-high 23 dig in the loss while her sister Taylor Webb (Nassawadox, Va./Northampton) chipped in 13 digs and dished out nine assists. Brooks Gillerlain (Suffolk, Va./Nansemond-Suffolk Academy) concluded the game with 21 assists.
The WildCats will remain in Virginia Beach as they travel to Christopher Newport University tomorrow for a tri-match. Randolph takes on the host Captains at 11 a.m. before facing St. Mary's College (Md.) at 1 p.m.