TOWSON, Md. — Goucher had St. Mary's (Md.) on the ropes in the first two sets of tonight's match in the Decker Sports & Recreation Center, but the Gophers will have to wait until at least next year to get another crack at ending the long winning streak the Seahawks enjoy in the series between the two in-state rivals.
The first set was knotted up at 23-23 before St. Mary's tallied the final two points to grab a 1-0 advantage in the match. The Gophers managed to pull even in the second set at 19-19 only to have the Seahawks go on a 6-1 run to close it out and take a 2-0 lead.
Even the third set was competitive as Goucher knocked a seven-point deficit down to 20-17 before St. Mary's earned the final five points to complete a 3-0 victory.
Sets scores were 25-23, 25-20, 25-17.
The Gophers (4-6) were after their first win over the Seahawks since their 3-0 (15-5, 17-15, 15-2) triumph in the 1997 Capital Athletic Conference quarterfinals. Since then, including tonight's match, St. Mary's has knocked off Goucher 22 consecutive times.
The biggest lead for either team in tonight's opening set was four points and it belonged to the Gophers, who went up 11-7 on a kill by Kelly Budge (Harrington Park, N.J./Northern Valley Old Tappan). It was the freshman outside hitter's third kill of the set and she went on to finish the match with a team-leading total of eight kills.
It was a service ace by Budge that provided Goucher with the point it needed to forge the 23-23 tie in the first set, but St. Mary's responded by earning the next two points, regaining the lead on a kill by Autumn Fisher and wrapping up the set on an attack error by the home team.
The Gophers' 19th point of the second set was the result of an attack error by their opponent. After regaining the serve, the Seahawks (4-2) went on a 5-0 run that was halted by a kill by junior middle hitter Hannah Kuehl (Plymouth, N.H./Plymouth Regional), which kept Goucher alive at 24-20.
A kill by Karlee Vailant produced set point for St. Mary's.
Goucher trailed in the third set by as many as seven points on two different occasions, but the Gophers were down only 20-17 after Budge's final kill. The Seahawks regained the serve thanks to a kill by Brigid Morris and then allowed Mimi Graf to serve out the match.
While no player for Goucher reached double figures in kills, three did in digs: freshmen Val Kirsch (Westport, Conn./Staples) and Erika DiPasuale (Paramus, N.J./Paramus) led the way with 11 apiece and junior Meredith Johnson (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood) was one behind at 10. Junior Sarah Johnson (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood) accounted for all but four of the 22 assists that the Gophers were credited with.
Two matches await first-year head coach Kelli Wilkinson's Gophers on Saturday. They will travel to Westminster for a match against McDaniel at noon, followed by a match against Penn St.-Abington.