By CHRIS MARKHAM
To say that the University of Mary Washington volleyball team has had a successful season would be a drastic understatement. Off to their best start in school history, the Eagles have climbed up the national rankings all year while showing no signs of slowing down.
Now ranked 14th in the nation, the Eagles have an overall record of 21-1. The Eagles’ lone loss of the year was a 3-0 sweep to Emory, currently ranked fifth in the country. UMW is also just one of five teams ranked in the top 25 with no more than one loss on the year and have the most wins of anyone in the top 25.
After cracking the top 25 for the first time in school history at the beginning of the year, the Eagles have continued a steady rise in the rankings. On Monday, updated rankings came out that moved UMW up two spots from No. 16, jumping ahead of CAC rival Christopher Newport who now sits at No. 18 with an overall record of 16-5.
A successful weekend at home propelled the Eagles up the rankings once again. After sweeping CAC rival Wesley on Friday, the Eagles faced a tougher opponent in Salisbury, who defeated UMW in the semifinals of the CAC tournament last year. While Salisbury was not a nationally ranked opponent, their record of 14-6 was respectable enough for the Eagles to play to their best to come out on top.
The first set was playing to the Seagulls’ favor, up 19-11 at one point before a UMW timeout. The Eagles came out of the timeout focused, and used that focus to mount a significant comeback and win the first set by a score of 29-27. UMW went on to win the next two sets and sweep SU in the match.
On Wednesday, the Eagles secured their 21st win of the season with a 3-0 victory over Gallaudet, extending their win-streak to 15 in a row.
The Eagles will look to extend their streak this Friday in an intense evening of gameplay. UMW plays No. 16 CNU at Newport News and No. 4 Southwestern immediately following their game against the Captains. Back-to- back top-20 opponents should prove to be a tough test for the Eagles, as their historic season nears the conference tournament.