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Firebirds Volleyball Surges Past Molloy, 3-0

A team effort led to an impressive, 3-0 ECC win over Molloy.
A team effort led to an impressive, 3-0 ECC win over Molloy.

WASHINGTON, DC -  The University of the District of Columbia volleyball team defeated Molloy College, 3-0 (25-14, 25-21, 25-19) in East Coast Conference action on Saturday afternoon.

The Firebirds have now won four of their last five matches as they inched their overall record closer to .500 at 12-13 overall and surpassed last season's win total of 11. They also evened the season series with the Lions and improved to 5-8 in league play. Molloy fell to 8-17 overall and 6-7 in the ECC.

"Today was a fantastic team effort," head coach Sheila Weaver said. "The young ladies came out with focus and poise, and they never let up. This was a great win for us."

District of Columbia was led offensively by sophomore Ariana Scott (Business – Lakewood, CA/Mayfair HS) and senior Vanessa Garley (Marketing – Rio Rancho,  NM/Rio Rancho HS). Scott blasted a career-high 16 kills while hitting .394 for the day. Garley added 10 kills with zero errors as she hit .417 to go with two service aces, nine digs and four blocks. Also, sophomore setter Kamene Rose (Psychology – Chula Vista, CA/Hilltop HS) directed the offense with 39 assists while adding a match-high three service aces.

Defensively, senior libero Grace Perilli (Economics – Nashville, TN/Independence HS) was a force in the back row with a match-high 17 digs while Garley and junior Julia Lynch (Studio Art – Spring Creek, NV/Spring Creek HS) combined for eight blocks.

Cassie Palmer and Katie Gallagher led the Lions with 10 kills apiece while libero Stefani Koelbel recorded a team-high 15 digs in a losing effort.

The Firebirds jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set and they would never trail the rest of the way. Twice, Molloy closed the gap to two (7-5 and 12-10), but District of Columbia took control with a 5-0 run to go up 17-10 after three straight Lions attack errors. The Firebirds went on to close out the first set on a 6-1 run as they won, 25-14 and took a 1-0 match lead.

Junior Tara Usko (History – Spring Creek, NV/Spring Creek HS) could not be stopped early on in set two as her four early kills helped District of Columbia claim an 11-3 advantage, and the Firebirds never looked back. Molloy did go on a 7-3 run to pull within 22-19 on a kill by Gallagher, and the Lions crawled back within three twice more (23-20, 24-21). But Garley would finish off the set on a kill for a 25-21 Firebirds win in set two and give the hosts a 2-0 match lead.

On the strength of two Cassie Palmer service aces, Molloy climbed out to a 10-5 lead and forced a District of Columbia timeout early on in set three. A 6-2 run by the Firebirds, culminating in a kill by Lynch, brought District of Columbia within one, 12-11, but Molloy responded with three consecutive points to extend its lead to 15-11. Back came the Firebirds with a 4-0 run to tie the match on a Lions ball-handling error, but Molloy scored the next three points to go up 18-15. Once again, District of Columia battled back to tie the score (18-18) with three straight points, and the two teams traded points once more for a 19-19 deadlock after a kill by Usko. The Usko kill would ignite a 7-0 Firebirds run that included two Rose service aces, a kill by Scott and three unforced Molloy errors as District of Columbia completed an impressive, 25-19 come-from-behind win in set three for the match sweep.

The Firebirds will host ECC foe Roberts Wesleyan tomorrow at 2 p.m. for Senior Day. District of Columbia will honor this year's two seniors, Grace Perilli and Vanessa Garley in a pre-game ceremony.