The University of Dayton women’s volleyball team opened its season with two of the highest profile wins in program history during the 2012 Flyer Classic.
With a Friday, Aug. 24 win over the University of Illinois, ranked No. 7 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason poll, UD earned its first win over a top-10 opponent in program history.
UD needed only three sets to beat Illinois 25-14, 25-17, 25-21, at the Frericks Center.
Though the Flyers followed up Friday’s victory with a second top-15 win, defeating No. 11 Pepperdine University 25-19, 18-25, 26-24, 25-18, it was a stark contrast to the Illinois game.
Head coach Kelly Sheffield said his team’s performance was ‘ugly,’ but was impressed by their resilience and fight.
“All preseason, we worked on getting back up when we were knocked down,” said Sheffield. “This win was ugly, but it was a good way for us to learn who we are.”
Getting back up was exactly what the Flyers had to do Sunday afternoon against a tough Ohio University team. After winning the first two sets, UD gave up a back-and-forth game three to the Bobcats.
Regaining control midway through the fourth set, Dayton ultimately won the match 25-18, 28-26, 24-26, 25-17 to claim the tournament title for the second time in three seasons.
Alongside the team’s success throughout the weekend came a personal milestone for senior outside hitter Rachel Krabacher.
In the first set of the Illinois match, a powerful spike from the Cincinnati native gave Krabacher her 1,000th career kill. She finished the night with a total of 17 kills.
“I felt great after I found out about that,” she said. “To do it not just against Illinois, but to do it at home … that was really special.”
So far Dayton’s freshman class has taken little time adjusting to the college game. Libero Janna Krafka made herself visible throughout the weekend, tallying a total of 45 digs on the weekend.
Krafka takes the place of senior Paige Vargas, who played libero the last two years.
“Anything I can do to help this team win, I will do,” said Vargas, who now plays primarily as a defensive specialist. “I’m happy that we have so many talented players here and I’m just excited to be part of this program.”
Freshman outside hitter Alaina Turner is filling the shoes of 2012 UD graduate Yvonne Marten. On Saturday, Turner’s 11 kills led the team, while her 15 on Sunday were second only to Krabacher.
Stellar three-day performances by Krabacher, Krafka and Turner earned them All-Tournament honors. Krafka was named tournament MVP.
Junior middle blocker Isolde Hannan said no matter what each game brings, the team cannot dwell on results.
“The team is like a train,” Hannan said, explaining one of Sheffield’s mantras. “We have stops [games] throughout our season, but as soon as we are finished, we have to keep moving so we’re not delayed.”
The first weekly AVCA poll is expected this week, Monday, Aug. 27 and many in the Dayton program, including Sheffield, would like to see their name included on the first 25 lines.
“We beat the No. 7 and No. 11 teams, plus OU,” he said. “I know I’m going to vote for us.”