Road Warriors: Volleyball’s tough start

Kris Mason
Staff Writer

Last season, women’s volleyball finished 26-8 under first-year head coach Jody Rodgers. Courtesy by VCU Athletics.

VCU’s women’s volleyball team opened their 2014-15 season with nine-straight games on the road and through nine games hold a record of 2-7.

Most recently, the Rams took part in the Carolina Classic in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, losing to No. 16 ranked University of Kentucky and No. 17 University of North Carolina on Sept. 13. The loss comes on the heels of the women’s volleyball team defeating Georgia Southern University 3-1 on Friday, Sept. 12. This was the Rams’ best performance of the season, as they hit a season-high .268 while junior Kalah Jones tallied 16 kills for the Rams while freshman Mary Kilbane led the team with 12 digs. Despite the two defeats, freshman outside hitter Jessica Young was named to the all-tournament team after tallying 31 kills in the three Carolina Classic matches.

Overall, it has been a disappointing start for a team that reached the Atlantic 10 championship game last season, finishing as runner-up to Duquesne University. This year, the Rams were projected to finish sixth in the 2014 A-10 preseason poll. Still, the beginning of the season has been a challenging one due in part to a difficult non-conference schedule on the road.

Second-year head coach Jody Rodgers’ team’ has returned a fair amount of talent from a year ago. Senior Amanda Love, who was named the A-10 Libero of the Year a year ago, was the league’s defensive MVP winner. Additionally, Love and Jones were both named to 2013 all A-10 second team.

Other key returners are a pair of seniors, who have had strong performances thus far. Senior Janelle Sykes leads the team with 69 kills as of Sept. 12. Senior setter Cecilia Aragao recorded a rare triple double against University of Texas A&M by tallying 50 assists, 16 digs and 10 blocks. Aragao has 73 digs on the year thus far, good for second on the team behindKilbane’s 90 digs.

However, the returning talent along with the addition of eight freshman has not been enough to ease the loss of 2013 A-10 player of the year Romana Kriskova, who transferred to the University of Wisconsin. The former VCU standout was recognized for her contribution when she was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-East Region Team. Kriskova was only the second player in VCU program history to receive that honor.

The offical start of the season began Aug. 30 in the Colorado State Invitational in Fort Collins, Colorado. The Rams played two matches against 18th ranked Colorado State University and Marquette University, losing both contests 3-0.

The Rams followed with what would be the first victory of the season defeating the University of California at Santa Barbara 3-1 in the Rams Volleyball Classic in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The following weekend they participated in the Bobcat Invitational in Athens, Ohio.

On Sept. 5, VCU lost to Virginia Tech 3-0 before falling the next day to Ohio University 3-0 and Texas A&M University 3-2.

Next, the Rams will finally host their first home game of the season at the Siegel Center as part of the VCU Invitational Sept. 19-20. The Rams will first take on East Tennessee State University on Sept. 19, followed by a doubleheader against Ball State University and cross state rival University of Virginia, on Sept. 20. The team will finish the non-conference portion of the schedule when they travel to face off against the College of William & Mary on Sept. 23.

The team opens their conference season at new Atlantic 10 member Davidson College on Saturday, Sept. 27.

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