If VCU’s seniors wanted to make their senior night last, it certainly didn’t show because the Rams made quick work of Hampton on Tuesday night.
In a match that lasted barely over an hour in the team’s regular-season finale at the Siegel Center, VCU dominated the visiting Pirates in straight sets, (25-9, 25-16, 25-17). The coaches and fans honored the three departing players and their families with a ceremony before the match, but after that it was nothing but business for the Rams.
“Tonight allowed us to re-focus after Friday’s (loss to William & Mary) and figure things out,” head coach James Finley said. “We had an incredible practice (on Monday), and now the girls are ready to come out and win.”
Seniors Kelsie Clegg and Mariel Frey, as well redshirt junior Jessica Ojukwu were the three players recognized in the pregame ceremony, and they were all in the starting lineup. It was Clegg along with Courtney Hott off the bench who led the way for VCU in the first set, dominating Hampton close to the net. Clegg had three emphatic kills, and would end the night with six. Hott had four of her seven total kills, and the Rams got off to the start they needed, reeling off 13 consecutive points after leading 7-6 early in the set. As a team they hit an absurd .609 in the first set as they set the tone for the evening.
Hampton was plagued throughout the night by ball handling and attacking errors, and VCU never gave them the opportunity to rebound from their mistakes; the Pirates committed 15 errors to VCU’s 10. In the second set, they built a lead as large as nine points, sucking the life out of Hampton’s game.
The senior duo of Frey and Clegg led the charge in the second while Kristen Boyd, one of the team’s most productive players, got a crucial rest. Frey had a team-high nine kills and also matched Ojukwu’s 18 total attacks for the team lead.
The third set was more of the same as VCU jumped out to yet another big lead early on and closed out the match with as much energy and enthusiasm as they began with, communicating and making plays en route to a 25-17 closeout.
Tuesday night serves as a final tune up before postseason play for VCU, who will face top-seeded Delaware in the CAA semifinals on Saturday night.
“We’ve been talking a lot about trust and communication, and it’s really helping us with our overall game,” Clegg said. “This game gives us a lot of upward emotional momentum. Even though (Delaware) came out on top in our last two matches, we’ll have a lot of opportunities and we match up well against them.”
Delaware nearly swept conference play this season, going 13-1 with their only CAA loss coming in a five-set contest against Georgia State back on Oct. 1. After dropping their final match to William & Mary last Friday, VCU finished 9-5 in the conference but will look to build on their recent momentum heading into the tournament.
The Rams will travel to the higher-seeded Delaware for Saturday’s playoff opener which starts at 7:30 p.m. Follow the match on Twitter @theCT_Sports.