Atlantic10 Volleyball Championship Preview

VCU hosts the Atlantic-10 Volleyball Championships for the first time beginning on Nov. 17. VCU is the defending conference champion and the regular season A-10 championship in 2018. Photo by Jon Mirador.

Noah Fleischmann 
Staff Writer

VCU will host the Atlantic 10 Volleyball Championship at the Siegel Center Nov. 16-18 as the Rams look to defend last year’s conference title.

The Black and Gold took the crown last season, knocking off Dayton in five sets in the championship match, 3-2.

The Rams enter the tournament as the No. 1 seed after clinching the regular season A-10 title with a 3-0 victory over Davidson Nov. 10.

VCU’s defense has been a key factor in its run this season, as the team combined for 283 blocks. Senior middle blocker Tori Baldwin wrote her name in the Rams’ record books, as she became VCU’s all-time leader in blocks. Baldwin is the first Ram to eclipse 500 career blocks — she has 507 heading into the A-10 Tournament.

“That was crazy [to eclipse 500 blocks], honestly I don’t know how to describe it,” Baldwin said. “I’m lucky that I was able to do that and I thank everyone who pushed me to be better.”

Junior middle blocker Jasmin Sneed ranks third in the NCAA with 1.65 blocks per set. This season, Sneed has logged 163 blocks. As a team, the Rams are seventh in the NCAA at 2.88 blocks per set.

Junior opposite hitter Vicky Giommarini has been a dominant offensive force, recording 273 kills this season, an average of 2.81 a set. She ranks 41st in the NCAA with an average of .41 aces per set.

“I’m looking forward for the girls to really be focused in on the first match and then for the second,” coach Jody Rogers said. “We don’t want to be looking for the championship yet. We want to play each game and work hard for winning another championship or at least contending for one. We really want to be in the championship match.”

The biggest competition for the Rams in the tournament will be No. 2 seed Dayton. VCU knocked off the Flyers twice this season, 3-1 on the road Sept. 30 and 3-2 at the Stu Oct. 26.

Dayton won three A-10 tournaments in a row until the Black and Gold defeated the Flyers last season in Pittsburgh. Overall, Dayton has won 11 of the last 15 A-10 tournament titles.

This is the first time the Siegel Center will host the A-10 Volleyball Championship — and the team hopes for a raucous atmosphere.

“It’s going to be hype,” Baldwin said. “I’m so excited, we are trying to bring everyone out. The fact that we get to fight for a ring here, that’s amazing. Let’s hope we win double time.”

The Rams will face the winner of No. 4 George Mason vs. No. 5 St. Louis in the semifinal Nov. 17 at 2 p.m.

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