Owls Come Up Short
Matt Gad – Contributor
WEST HAVEN, Conn. – The Owls, winners of 21 overall, were unable to continue their season Thursday afternoon when they lost to Adelphi, 3-0, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament
Despite a closely contested opening set that saw the Panthers winning, 26-24, the game ended up being one of missed opportunities for the Northeast-10 champions, who would have played a rematch with American International in the second round.
“I’m really proud of this group and what they’ve been able to accomplish this year,” head coach Lisa Barbaro said. “[They won] their first conference championship ever and to be back to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in a row is pretty tremendous. The girls have really worked hard from the start of the season to the end and I’m just proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish.”
Senior middle hitter Alyssa Gage, last week’s Most Outstanding Player, led the team with 12 kills and freshman Kailyn O’Neal, the only one in her class that earned a starting spot this year, had 30 assists. Another senior and co-captain, Leanna Jadus, named to the Google Cloud and CoSIDA Academic All-District Team, recorded nine kills.
“I can’t say enough about this senior group and what they’ve been able to do for our volleyball program,” Barbaro said. “They’ve really helped to turn the corner and they’ve been great examples for the university, both in the classroom and on the court.”
The team welcomed seven freshman to the squad as they entered this season back in August. Including O’Neal, they brought on Megan Mercer, Sophia Castellano, Erika Benson, Kylie Fisher, Natalie Fineman and Xia’ian Carrasco.
“We see how we’ve done well now and we still have more opportunities to keep going,” O’Neal said. “Even though this is the end for the seniors I know they’ve left such a good legacy that we know what we have to do to continue fighting and be as strong as we were this year.”
The team ends the 2018 season with two consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, their first two in program history, their first ever conference title and another campaign that saw more than 20 wins overall.
The Owls also managed to record an unstoppable 13-1 mark on their home court at Pelz Gymnasium and finished their postseason 3-1.
“Our passing broke down a bit and we missed serves. We just struggled to get back into a rhythm after losing the first set,” Barbaro said.
Adelphi takes the third set and wins this one, 3-0. Owls finish the season at 21-14 and have a career mark of 1-2 in three NCAA Tournament games, dating back to last year. No. 2 Adelphi will play No. 6 AIC tomorrow.
— Matt Gad (@RealMattGad) November 15, 2018
Coaching on the sidelines with Barbaro this year, and returning assistant coach Eddie Castano, was Marshay Greenlee, who played Division I volleyball in college, and Brianna Litevich, a former standout at Nyack.
Over the past two seasons, the Owls have recorded a combined record of 45-25 for a winning percentage of 64 percent.
“In practice we all know that we need to have the ability to step up and like in our match today anything can happen. We just have to be ready to go,” O’Neal said. “I don’t have any doubt on my mind that nobody can’t do what they have to do. We want to use this to motivate us to do even better next year.”