Volleyball sets record with three wins in two days
Morgan Douglas – Sports Editor
Volleyball’s impressive run continued this past week, picking up four more victories and including three wins in two days. Their record is now sitting at 10-2.
The Felician University Golden Falcons were the Owls’ latest prey this past Saturday, losing in four sets at Pelz Gymnasium. The Owls remain undefeated at home, having won the first eight games in their gym.
“I tell the girls all the time, this is our house,” head coach Lisa Barbaro said. “We love being in here. I mean, yeah, it’s hot and maybe that plays to our advantage. We practice in here every day, so, we’re really used to that, and we really try to stress that home court advantage and so far, we’re doing a great job.”
Even during warmups, the home team looked like the better one, but to Felician’s credit, they came out strong in the early going.
The Golden Falcons led for most of the first set, but the Owls kept coming, chipping away at the lead until Felician was forced to call timeout up 23-22. Outside hitter Gabriela Vazquez tied the score at 24, and the Owls rallied late to win the first set 28-26.
“Sometimes in those moments, it’s about who wants it more,” Vazquez said, “and I feel like we’re getting to a place where we’re able to dig ourselves out of those holes in those situations.”
The second set was a back-and-forth affair with neither side gaining control or momentum. A set which saw 14 tie scores. Up 20-19 the Golden Falcons were sweating. The Owls were focused.
Felician took the set 30-28, finally, but between the heat in the gym and the effort it took for them to win, the Golden Falcons had been tarnished for the rest of the afternoon.
The third set was all Owls. Middle hitter Payton Reis played very well off the bench, and setter Taylor Jones had the offense clicking, repeatedly putting her teammates in great positions to score.
The Owls went on a 5-1 run out of a timeout to take the third set 25-15. The set point coming from Jones assisting outside hitter Gabriela Gaibur for the kill. Winning by 10 was quite the feat after dropping the previous set.
“I think that during the second set we were a bit stunned, and we were noticing that we were playing bad,” Jones said, “but once we lost that second set, we reminded ourselves that we hold ourselves to a very high expectation, and that it was unacceptable.”
The Owls led the entire fourth set, as the bench chanted the names of Vazquez, Gaibur and middle hitter Abigail Epstein. Vazquez was just toying with the Golden Hawks it seemed, by this point. Going to her left hand, her off-hand, to record multiple kills, including one to give the Owls a 22-12 lead.
“I am not left-handed,” Vazquez said with a grin. “I got some nice swings; I was so excited. I don’t even know, it just happened.”
Vazquez’ 18 kills were a game-high and set a new career-high for the graduate student. Gaibur scored the match point to end the fourth set 25-19, and with it the game.
Gaibur had a double-double in the contest, her third this week, with 14 kills and 15 digs. Volleyball will next take the court on Thursday, Sept. 23 for a 7 p.m. matchup at Pace University.
To get to a 10-2 record, many things need to be going right. One of those things has been this volleyball team’s passing. Jones averages 10 assists per set, distributing to the likes of Vazquez, Gaibur and Epstein with regularity. Jones tallied 38 assists across the four sets Saturday afternoon and credited it to her team’s consistency.
“Usually with volleyball, either your passing is off and your hitting’s on, or your hitting is off, and your passing is on,” Jones said, “but it’s never one or the other on this team, they’re very consistent.”