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The William & Mary volleyball team put on a terrific show Friday night in the season-opener against Gardner-Webb, taking the match a full five sets before being edged, 3-2.
The match was the second of the Tribe Invitational, which saw La Salle defeat Norfolk State 3-2 in the afternoon game.
For the Tribe, senior Mallory Brickerd (Ashburn, Va.) led the way with team highs in both kills (12) and blocks (4). Classmate Carolyn Albright (Raleigh, N.C.) matched her in blocks with four more, one of them a solo effort, and also dropped in seven kills.
Redshirt-junior Michelle Heath (Rustburg, Va.) had nine kills and six digs, and sophomore Sydney Biniak (Elkridge, Md.) had eight kills and three blocks, one solo. Sophomore Paige Humphrey (Oak Hill, Va.) rounded out the scoring notables with six kills and three blocks.
Making her presence felt on the defensive end was senior Dessi Koleva (Torrance, Calif.), who picked up a career-best 25 digs to go with a pair of service aces.
Sophomore Sara Zumbach(Franklin, Tenn.) was close behind with 23 digs, and junior Gabrielle Pe (Virginia Beach, Va.) just missed a double-double of 19 assists and nine digs.
Freshman Katie Kemp (Brentwood, Tenn.) made her Tribe debut in the match, dishing out 21 assists to go with seven digs and an ace.
After Gardner-Webb took the first set 25-17, W&M returned the favor with a 25-14 drubbing in the second.
Ahead 9-7, the Tribe blew the doors off with a 13-3 run before Heath provided two kills in the final three points for the win.
The third set was the highlight of the night, featuring 15 ties and four lead changes, the final coming on a block and a kill by Biniak to take a 23-22 lead.
The Bulldogs tied it up on the next point, but the Green and Gold took the final two points and Brickerd capped the 25-23 win with another kill. The fourth set saw a Gardner-Webb run late to pull out a 25-21 win, and the Bulldogs closed things with another run in the fifth to win the match.
William & Mary is back in action Saturday with a pair of matches, beginning at 10 a.m. The Tribe takes on La Salle in the morning, and then comes back at 7 p.m. to face Norfolk State in the tournament finale.