Marlins defeat Guilford in five-game thriller

VIRGINIA BEACH -- It was all about timing for Cay Gee on Saturday.

The sophomore from Parkton, Md. (Hereford) recorded just two kills for Virginia Wesleyan College's volleyball Marlins, but her second one turned out to be one of the biggest of the afternoon. 

Guilford College's Quakers had just wiped out a 13-10 deficit in the fifth and deciding game of an Old Dominion Athletic Conference match at the Jane P. Batten Student Center, when Gee emerged with her timely kill that stopped the team from Greensboro, N.C., and pushed VWC into a 14-13 lead.  Moments later a Guilford error gave VWC a 15th and final point for a thrilling match win.

VWC's 15-13 score in the finale capped an intense battle that saw both teams record comebacks.  The Marlins opened with a 25-19 decision, but Guilford answered with 25-16 and 25-23 decisions to put the pressure on the host team.  The Marlins responded with a 25-17 victory to force a fifth and deciding game.

Virginia Wesleyan (3-5, 1-2) started off impressively, opening up a 15-8 lead in the first game behind Kala Guy (Fishersville, Va./Wilson Memorial) and Taylor Allen (Bowie, Md./Bladensburg Elizabeth Seton). Guilford (2-9, 0-2) never got closer than four points the rest of the way.

The Quakers trailed 6-2 early in the second game before Taylor Phillips (Diamond Springs, Calif./Union Mine), Laura Kopald (Aiken, S.C./Augusta),  Malikah French (Durham, N.C./School of the Arts), and Emma Gunn (Phoenixville, Pa./Great Valley) helped spark the team to a 16-11 lead.  Guilford stayed in command, maintaining a lead of four or more points in the game.

Virginia Wesleyan recovered quickly to jump in front early in the third game, with Tempe Martens (Severna Park, Md./Severna Park) and Guy helping the Marlins to an 11-7 lead.  A French kill started to swing momentum back Guilford however, and the Quakers eventually took the lead at 14-13.  The game was tied six times after that until a VWC error and a Kopald kill put Guilford in front 24-22.  Brittney Edwards (Warrenton, Va./Fauquier) put down a timely kill for VWC to make it 24-23, but Guilford came up with the game winner when French slammed the ball to the court.

Guilford rode that momentum to a 5-2 lead in game four and led 11-7 before Guy started to take charge for the Marlins.  VWC turned a 13-10 deficit into an 18-14 lead and never trailed again.  Guilford pulled within a 20-17 score, but Virginia Wesleyan scored five unanswered points, with Kerry Johnson (Richmond, Va./J.R. Tucker), Allen, and Gee coming through with big plays down the stretch to take the win and force the fifth game.

Virginia Wesleyan jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the decider and never trailed, helped by play at the net by Alex Kirk (Concord, N.C./Jay M. Robinson). Big kills by Johnson and Martens helped give the Marlins a 12-8 advantage, before Guilford rallied to make it close down the stretch.

Guy finished with 17 kills for Virginia Wesleyan, Martens added 13. Allie Bal (Bogota, N.J./Bogota) finished with 27 assists and Mikaela Whitaker (Gainesville, Va./Haymarket Battlefield) contributed with 19 digs.  Guy also recorded four aces and Allen finished with three.

Mary Moody (Asheboro, N.C./Asheboro) recorded 10 kills for Guilford and Kopald and French added nine each. Taylor Whitley (China Grove, N.C./Jesse C. Carson) produced 32 assists and Phillips led the team with 15 digs.

Virginia Wesleyan competes again on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at Eastern Mennonite University in an ODAC contest beginning at 6:30 p.m.