Volleyball finishes regular season in winning form

VCU volleyball finished 26-8 in its first season under new head coach Jody Rogers.

Bobby Gary 
Contributing Writer

VCU volleyball finished the regular season with a 3-1 home win against Mid American Conference champion Ohio University yesterday. The victory over the  27-5 Bobcats improved the Lady Rams’ record to an impressive 26-8 on the season.

Saturday’s win held NCAA tournament implications due to the fact that VCU finished as the runner-up in the Atlantic 10 tournament and did not receive an automatic bid.

Ohio entered the match ranked 35th in Division I volleyball. The win was VCU’s best RPI victory of the season, adding to an already impressive resume for a Lady Rams squad that has defeated six teams in the top-100 and two teams in the top-50 RPI standings.

Ohio dismantled VCU in the first set, hitting .481 percent and rendered the Lady Rams’ defense nonexistent. The Bobcats held VCU to just 13 points in the opening frame.

The second set proved to be more back-and-forth with the Lady Rams taking a 10-9 lead early on. Eventually, a pair offensive errors by Ohio sophomore outside hitter Saige Gallop and redshirt sophomore outside hitter Uzoamaka Ibeh extended VCU’s lead to 18-12, which would prove too challenging for the Bobcats to overcome. The Lady Rams tied the match at one set apiece with a 25-20 victory in the second set.

The third set needed a tiebreaker. After a service error by the Bobcats, VCU’s sophomore setter and libero Samantha Blaze aced her serve to secure the set for head coach Jody Rogers and her teammates, giving the Lady Rams a 2-1 advantage.

In the fourth set, VCU used a 9-1 run led by sophomore outside hitter Romana Kriskova, who used four kills to help the Lady Rams take a 20-12 lead. From there, the Bobcats made a run; however, VCU finally closed the door on Ohio with a 25-22 fourth-set victory, securing Rogers’ 26th victory in her first season with the team.

Kriskova led the Lady Rams offensively with a match-high 16 kills. Sophomore outside hitter Kalah Jones added 12 kills and freshman middle blocker Norah Reed added seven kills.

Freshman setter Kaitlyn LaMantia had another solid game, handing out 47 assists in the match.

Defensively, the Lady Rams stifled opposing shots, out digging the Bobcats 50-43. Junior libero Amanda Love tallied 18 digs throughout the match.

VCU came into the match ranked 64th in the country. The win against a talented Ohio team kept the NCAA tournament dreams alive for the Lady Rams, who would need to earn one of the 33 at-large selections to have a shot at the national title.

VCU has not made it to the 64-team tournament since 2005, but is in decent position to gain entry into the tournament heading into the NCAA selection show, which took place at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday. The results of the selection process were not final as of press time.

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