After dropping consecutive matches against Wisconsin and North Carolina State, the VCU volleyball team bounced back to start Atlantic-10 play in impressive fashion, with four consecutive victories against coference opponents.
VCU is now 4-0 in the A-10 and 14-4 on the season overall.
The win against the Flyers on Sept. 27 was historic, as the Lady Rams snapped Dayton’s 33-game home win streak, which dated back to 2008.
The four-time defending A-10 champion and preseason conference favorite Dayton Flyers jumped out to a 2-1 lead; however, the Rams battled back behind junior setter Cecilia Aragao, who led the way for the Rams with 49 assists and 20 digs.
One of sophomore opposite hitter Romana Kriskova’s 19 kills in the closing moments of the fourth set pushed the Flyers to a tiebreak, where the two teams drew even at 10-10 before Kriskova sparked a 4-1 rally with a pair of kills. Dayton would claw back to within one point before the Rams shut the door on the flyers, winning the tiebreak by a score of 15-13.
Entering this season, Dayton was 67-2 against conference opponents in the last four seasons combined.
Head coach Jody Rogers was pleased with the monumental win.
“This was a huge team win, a huge win for the program and huge win for VCU,” Rogers told VCU Athletics. “I’m just happy for the girls and happy for the school, because volleyball needs to be better and the girls are doing it.”
The Rams improved their conference record to 2-0 on Sept. 29, defeating the Duquesne Dukes in five sets at the Palumbo center in Pittsburgh, Pa.
VCU claimed the first set after the two teams alternated points early in the match. The Rams would concede the second set to the Dukes before taking a 2-1 advantage into the fourth set. Facing their fifth five-set match in seven contests, the Rams battled,but dropped the fourth set 26-24, setting up their second consecutive tiebreak against an A-10 opponent on the road.
In the tiebreaker VCU would take care of business once again, defeating Duquesne 15-7 in the fifth set behind a collective .471 team hitting average. Kriskova’s 27 kills and Aragao’s 52 assists led the way for the Rams.
This past Wednesday, VCU hosted Hampton in its first home conference match of the year. The Rams made quick work of the Pirates, defeating Hampton in three sets. Kriskova led the way for the Rams once again with 18 kills, pushing VCU to 14-4 on the season and 3-0 in A-10 play.
On Friday, the George Washington University Colonials were in town. Again, the Rams needed just three sets to defeat the conference foe. Kriskova tallied 16 kills and redshirt freshman Kaitlyn LaMantia made her first collegiate start as VCU topped GW 27-25, 25-21, 25-20.
The Rams are coming off back-to-back sweeps, but with six tiebreak victories on the young season already, Rogers appears satisfied with her team’s late-game performance.
“They’re getting better under pressure,” Rogers told VCU Athletics. “The girls keep getting confidence.”
The back-to-back conference road wins against Dayton and Duquesne earned junior setter Cecilia Aragao both the A-10 player of the week for the second straight week and Virginia Lottery student-athlete of the week honors in late September. The Brazilian native registered 101 assists, 20 digs, six blocks and six kills in the first two conference matches of the season.
The awards are few of many Aragao has received so far this season, including a third A-10 player of the week honor, an A-10 defensive player of the week award and three all-tournament nominations in the non-conference tournaments played earlier in the year.