VIRGINIA BEACH -- Close just wasn't good enough for Virginia Wesleyan College's volleyball team on Saturday.
The Marlins challenged Old Dominion Athletic Conference leader Washington & Lee University from start-to-finish and pushed Capital Athletic Conference power University of Mary Washington, but could not find the winning points in either match played at the Jane P. Batten Student Center.
Washington & Lee's Generals (16-2, 6-0) pulled out a 25-23, 26-25, 25-19 conference win, before Mary Washington's Eagles (13-4) out-lasted the Marlins 25-23, 25-19, 25-19 in non-conference competition.
Competition between VWC (6-10, 3-3) and Washington & Lee was intense throughout as the three-game match included 33 ties and 12 lead changes. Virginia Wesleyan owned the largest lead of the first game at 19-16, but two consecutive Marlin errors let the Generals pull close. The game was tied at 21 and 22, before another VWC error gave WLU the lead at 23-22. Kills by Meghan Meleski (Richmond, Va./Mills Godwin) and M.A. Boles (Houston, Texas/St. John's School) gave the Generals the 25-23 win.
Washington & Lee jumped out to an 8-5 lead in the second game, only to see VWC battle back behind Mallory Slade (Burlington, N.C./Eastern Alamance) and Kala Guy (Fishersville, Va./Wilson Memorial) to take a 10-8 lead. The teams traded the lead thereafter, before Emily Hudson (Charlotte, N.C./Myers Park) came through with a kill to make it a 23-22 WLU lead. Kerry Johnson (Richmond, Va./J.R. Tucker) and Brittany Edwards (Warrenton, Va./Fauquier) helped VWC knot the score at 24, before two consecutive Marlin errors provided the winning points for the Generals.
It was more of the same in the third game as the teams battled evenly through 15 points. But, once Megan Daily (Birmingham, Ala./Mountain Brook) gave the lead to W&L at 16-15 on a kill, the Generals led the rest of the way.
Virginia Wesleyan started a little slower against Mary Washington, falling behind 17-12 in the first game. But, Taylor Allen (Bowie, Md./Bladensburg Elizabeth Seton), Alex Kirk (Concord, N.C./Jay M. Robinson), Guy and Johnson helped push VWC to a tie at 22. Two VWC errors gave the Eagles breathing room and Kaitlynn Wickersham (Midlothian, Va./Manchester) came through with a kill for the winning point in the 25-23 game.
Mary Washington broke open a close second game behind Karissa Herrick (Colts Neck, N.J./Colts Neck), Emily Shea (Chesapeake, Va./Hickory), and Wickersham to open up a 20-17 lead. Allen and Guy pulled VWC within two points, but no closer.
Virginia Wesleyan fell henhind 12-7 in game three and battled back to pull within a 12-11 score on a Johnson kill. But, the Eagles reeled off six unanswered points to open up an 18-11 lead. VWC came on strong one more time to cut the gap to 20-18, but could not push forward.
Guy finished with nine kills, Johnson with eight, and Allen with six against UMW. Allie Bal (Bogota, N.J./Bogota) recorded 18 assists and Erin Paton (Chesapeake, Va./Western Branch) posted 11 digs. Wickersham led UMW with 11 kills and eight digs. Katie Shiflett (Weyers Cave, Va./Fort Defiance) produced 30 assists.
Guy also led VWC against W&L with 10 kills, while Johnson added eight, and Edwards seven. Bal came through with 17 assists and Paton finished with 15 digs. Daily paced WLU with 11 kills, Meleski produced 26 assists, and Cameron Hill (Tampa, Fla./H.B. Plant) recorded 14 digs.
Virginia Wesleyan returns to competition on Friday, Oct. 7, and Saturday, Oct. 8, in the Gallaudet University Invitational in Washington, D.C.