Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
A year ago, Dayton won the Atlantic 10 volleyball tournament title in a five-set heavyweight bout with the top-seeded Rams on the Siegel Center floor, a year after the black and gold won it.
The Rams and Flyers squared off ov. 17 in the final regular-season match for both teams, with the A-10 regular-season crown on the line. But before the match, the Rams noticed something in Dayton’s pregame video that sparked a fire.
“At the end, they had the trophy from last year and it stung right before the game like, ‘Dang, it still hurts,’” senior middle blocker Jasmin Sneed said. “So, [it] definitely fuels our fire for this year.”
Sneed and the Rams beat Dayton in five sets after falling behind 2-1 in the match to earn the regular-season title and the top seed in the A-10 tournament.
The Rams are no strangers to holding the top spot as they enter this weekend’s tournament with a No. 1 seed for the third straight year.
In 2017, the black and gold beat Dayton to earn their first A-10 title and log a perfect record in conference play. Last season, the Rams dropped two matches in A-10 play, both to Dayton, including the championship match.
The Rams are now taking it one match at a time, riding a 17-match winning streak this season with 12 wins in straight sets.
“Well, it’s great to have a streak, but I think we’re not focused on that,” coach Jody Rogers said. “And the team knows that because anybody can win on any given day … if you overlook anybody, that’s when they can bite you.”
Over the weekend, the Rams played back-to-back five-set matches for the first time since Sept. 21 and Sept. 27, beating Saint Louis on Nov. 15 and Dayton two days later.
“I think we got that experience of having some adversity and coming up on top and be able to bring that into the next weekend,” senior opposite hitter Gina Tuzzolo said. “Knowing that we’ve done it before, if we continue to execute and we continue to improve, we can do it again.”
Rogers said the tough road environment was a good tune-up for the A-10 tournament.
“They had a lot of fans, a lot of emotion, it was crazy at both places,” Rogers said. “I think it’s going to help them immensely as we move into this weekend because it’s going to be a hostile environment.”
The Rams will play the winner of George Washington and La Salle Nov. 23 at 4:30 p.m. in the A-10 semifinals. The championship is set for Nov. 24 at 2 p.m.