Owls get upset in championship rematch
Sam Tapper — Sports Writer
As the Owls volleyball team moves further into conference play, getting to 2-0 was the night’s goal — but an upset came at the hands of the American International Yellow Jackets in a rematch of the NE10 championship at Pelz Gymnasium.
The Owls entered the day at 8-6 and 1-0 in the conference, coming off a 3-0 sweep of Pace University to snap a five-game losing streak. The Yellow Jackets came to Southern with a record of just 2-14 and 0-2 in the NE10.
AIC came out aggressive and aimed to get the Owls outof-sync early. In the first set, though the Owls would be right there with the Yellow Jackets, tying the score at eight early, AIC would make a run and stretch the tie game into a 17-11 lead, ultimately winning the first set 25-14.
“It’s never good to get off to a bad start,” said Owls head coach Lisa Barbaro. “But in this game it’s kind of nice because even if you do give a set, you have a chance to kind of reset in the second set, and that’s what we try to do: we try to reset every set.”
In set two, it looked as if the Owls had done just that: reset. The defending NE10 champions fit the same narrative early in the set, as the score was tied at 12. From that moment, the Owls would go on a 15-2 run and close out the second set with a 25-14 victory. Unfortunately for the Owls, this would be there only set win that night.
In sets three and four, the Owls had energy and played hard, but fell just short. AIC would win set three 25-22 and then set four 25-19. The Owls were restricted in those sets due to service errors and balls being
hit into the net; they committed 18 errors, 10 of which came from the service line.
“I definitely think we have a lot to improve on; at the end of the day it came down to our servepass game,” said senior captain Jillian Chambers. “We were unable to deliver with either of those, so I think, not being able to get good passes, we were unable to fire up our offense and score any points, so I think that’s where we really broke down.”
Despite the loss, there were bright spots for the Owls. Senior Tea Carter continued to lead her team in assists, as she collected 36 of her team’s 37 total assists. Coming into the game, Carter was ranked fifth in the NE10 in assists per set, averaging 9.31 in that category. Chambers would finish the day
with six kills and 13 digs.
Freshman talent Ella White has also been a huge part of the Owls’ success plan this year. Though she is just a freshman, she ranks among the conference leaders in kills, points and total attacks. Going into the game, White had collected 119 kills averaging 2.59 per set. She is one of two freshmen in the conference with over 100 kills. She finished the match-up against AIC with eight more kills, 45 total attacks and 12.5 points.
“It feels amazing, I love it,” White said of her early success. “I just keep doing what I’m doing, what I’m told to do. Just learning more and more every day at practice; I just think it’s great that I have the opportunity as a freshman and be playing out here.”