By: Katie Obear – Staff Writer
The Dayton volleyball team had a rough start to its 2015 season.
The team began the season in Ames, Iowa, against North Dakota Friday, Aug. 28, in the Cyclone Invitational, losing 3-2.
Despite the loss, the Flyers had some standout players during this match such as redshirt sophomore setter Megan Giardina, who got her first career double-double with 27 assists and 11 digs. Senior outside hitter Alaina Turner also recorded her first double-double of the season with 21 kills and 10 digs.
This was only the second time UD has played North Dakota since 2011, when UD won 3-1.
Dayton next went on to play Iowa State later that day, losing 3-1.
In the last match of the invitational, UD played Marquette the following day and lost, 3-0. However, the Flyers still currently hold a 21-8 series advantage against Marquette.
The North Dakota loss was only the program’s second loss in a season opener under head coach Tim Horsmon’s direction, and they are now 5-2 in those games under Horsmon.
Despite the three losses under their belt, the team had the opportunity to change their record at the Comfort Inn Saluki invitational Sept. 4 and 5 in Carbondale, Illinois.
“It’s just getting back to where Dayton volleyball is supposed to be,” Turner said. “Our coaches are really good at breaking down the game with numbers and statistics, and after last weekend we came in on Monday and we went over everyone’s numbers and where we should be and where they were and how we had to get better for next weekend.”
Southern Illinois hosted the invitational, and UD faced the host Salukis, Tennessee-Martin and Western Kentucky.
During the match Friday, Southern Illinois took the win, defeating UD 3-1.
Despite another loss, the Flyers showed off their abilities with sophomore setter Jane Emmenecker setting the match high of 45 assists and senior Janna Krafka posting a match high of 19 digs.
“Dayton is a very competitive volleyball program and will no doubt have another fantastic year,” Taylor Pippen, a senior and middle hitter for the Salukis, said.
Southern Illinois and UD have played each other five times, starting in 1972. Their series was deadlocked at 2-2 prior to the match, and is now 3-2 in favor of Southern Illinois.
UD swept UT Martin 3-0 in the first match of the day on Saturday in the first meeting between the two programs since 1981. This earned the Flyers their first win of the season and improved their record to 1-4. Again, Emmenecker really showed her talent and skills during this match, recording the only double-double stat line of 36 assists and 10 digs.
Lastly, Dayton played Western Kentucky Saturday night for the seventh matchup between the two programs. WKU came into the match holding the advantage in the all-time series, 4-2, with the last matchup occurring in 2013.
Western Kentucky started out their season strong with three wins, including over former Dayton head coach Kelly Sheffield and Wisconsin, and had the same overall record as UD did last season at 30-6.
They also made it to the NCAA Tournament as well, losing in the first round.
The Flyers defeated WKU, 3-0 on Saturday night, again improving Dayton’s overall record now to 2-4.
“It felt good,” head coach Tim Horsmon said. “It felt good for our staff. They’ve worked really hard. Last weekend was a rough weekend, we’ve been working through some injuries. So we got better through the weekend. We played really well, we’re improving and that’s what we want to do.”
Turner was named the MVP of the Saluki Invitational, while Krafka and sophomore Amber Erhahon joined Turner on the All-Tournament Team.
“Alaina is a very talented player and we wish the entire Dayton team nothing but the best of luck this season!” Pippen said.
“It felt good, but all my teammates played awesome today,” Turner said about her MVP nomination.
“This is the best I’ve seen some of them. There’s a lot of freshmen that came out and got to show their stuff—it’s not just me.”
The Flyers have their first home invitational, the Dayton Invitational, Friday and Saturday at the Frericks Center, starting with their first match against Baylor Friday at 7 p.m. and two matches on Saturday, the first at 12:30 p.m. against Eastern Illinois and again at 7 p.m. against Cleveland State. Admission is free.
“I think we play at a special place, and it’s a great home court advantage and it’s fun to play [there],” Horsmon said. “I think our girls are really excited to play in front of friends and family and Flyers fans, so they are very much looking forward to a home weekend.”