Volleyball stays hot on home court with win
Matt Gad – Sports Writer
The Owls have had an up-and- down season so far but they got back on track with a dominant three-set victory over winless Concordia last Friday night.
Gabriela Vazquez had a career- high 13 kills and five aces, Leanna Jadus recorded 10 kills and a block, Alyssa Gage had a team-leading four blocks, coupled with nine kills of her own, and Jillian Chambers had two kills, an ace and three blocks.
“It feels good,” Vazquez said of her leading stat line. “I feel like you can’t take all the credit because I wouldn’t have my performance if I wouldn’t have had my team.”
The team, now 10-11 after Saturday’ s win, came in winners of two of their last three from a four-set victory over Assumption Sept. 25 and a five-set thriller over Bentley on Sept. 29.
In the contest with Concordia, they dropped the first set, 25-20, before rallying to win the second and third sets (25-13 and 25-17). The Clippers then decided to forfeit the rest of the match because they did not have enough healthy players. Three of their nine players came into the game hurt and one injured herself in the first set. She re-aggravated it in the third set and then, ultimately, their head coach decided against playing out the rest of the match, meaning the Owls won the fourth set, 25-0, to complete a 3-1 victory and improve to 7-1 at home as of last week.
“I think we’re doing alright,” head coach Lisa Barbaro said.“We’ve been very focused with our conference and trying to do well there. Tonight it was a challenge; we tried to use a lot of different players and have other people step up and I thought that it was good to give other people opportunities to expand our depth.”
Freshmen Kaitlyn O’Neal led the team with 24 assists and Kylie Fisher added six assists of her own. Fellow freshmen Erika Benson, Sophia Castellano and Natalie Fineman also received playing time.
“As we continue to go back into conference play next week I’m hoping we get the chance to get back on the winning track. We’ve historically been doing really well at home and struggling a bit on the road so I think our win against Bentley really proved that we could win on the road,” Barbaro said.
Last year, in the team’s historic run to the NCAA Tournament East Regional, they won 24 games and only dropped 11, their current mark in the losing column. They also had four separate winning streaks, including one that gave them a 5-0 start to the year and one that gave them six victories in a row between Oct. 10 and Oct. 23.
“We definitely try to focus every day on getting better,” Vazquez said. “This year we’ve had ups-and-downs. It’s been like a roller coaster but we just can’t take any opponent for granted. We’re just trying to get better every day.”
The team has nine games left in the regular- season, including contests against Merrimack Saturday afternoon, Adelphi, Stonehill, Southern New Hampshire, Molloy College, Franklin Pierce, the New York Institute of Technology, Saint Anselm and Saint Michael’s College.
“Our focus is on each week and at least being .500 on the week,” Barbaro said. “We stay day-to-day and with one opponent at a time. We don’t try to look ahead. The conference is wide open – a lot of teams are playing well so we’re still in the hunt and we just gotta keep getting better.”
Photo Credit: Southernctowls.com