By: Meaghan Mcnichol – Staff Writer
After coming so close to an undefeated conference season last year, the Dayton volleyball team came back with a vengeance this year after losing only one conference game during the 2014 season.
This year, the Flyers are entering the 2015 Atlantic 10 championship with a perfect 14-0 conference record and a 23-5 overall record. With an undefeated in-conference record, they are the favorites to win the A-10 tournament championship for the second year in a row.
Last year, the Dayton Flyers volleyball team finished with an overall record of 30-6, an Atlantic 10 title and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“The one [conference] match we lost last year [against George Washington] fueled us for this year because last year, we definitely should have gone undefeated,” sophomore setter Jane Emmenecker said. “So this year that became one of our goals. GW gave us a reality check of ‘we do always need to come to the table prepared.’”
Although they played a great 2014 season, the Flyers continued to work toward their success by improving their game.
“We’re doing pretty much the same things this season that we did last season,” head coach Tim Horsmon said.
“We are working at the same rate and the expectations are the same. We’re just trying to get better every day.”
Horsmon also credits the team’s success to the ability of both the coaches and the players.
“We have great players in our program that work hard and have bought in, and I think they are really coachable and do what you ask them to do,” Horsmon said. “They are good character kids.”
The Flyers are currently on a 20-game winning streak and Horsmon said they plan to keep up the good work, simply, by doing what’s been working for them best: playing their game.
“We’re preparing for the championship the same way we’ve prepared all year,” Horsmon said. “We’ve really tried to get ourselves ready for this moment and just continuing to grow and challenge them. At the end of the year we’re going to play our best volleyball.”
The team follows a “Play One Way” motto, meaning they strive for consistency.
“They’ve prepared us great in the past few months, so I feel like they are just going to keep doing what they’ve been doing because it’s been working,” first-year defensive specialist Margo Wolf said. “So we’re just focusing on getting better.”
The Flyers clinched an undefeated conference season with Saturday’s 3-1 road win over Saint Louis. Dayton ran through A-10 play with a 14-0 record, and was taken to five sets only three times in conference play.
They are scheduled to play Ohio University shortly after the conference tournament, which begins Saturday for the top-seeded Flyers, as they earned a bye into the semifinals.
While the team has been focusing on finishing the conference undefeated, another A-10 championship and competing well in the NCAA tournament, they are also working toward next season.
During the 2016 season, the Flyers will not have a senior class, forcing the current sophomores into premature leadership.
“The upcoming junior class is ready to take on leadership roles,” Emmenecker said.
“We are being taught by our leaders now, and that will play a big role next year because we have such great people who are inspiring us to be like them next year.”
Wolf agrees that everyone is preparing themselves for a shift in leadership next season.
“Everyone is going to have to step up and help lead the team,” Wolf said.
Horsmon isn’t worried about the loss of five seniors and contributors. Although he said they will be missed, he has confidence in the strength of the rest of the team.
“We have a bunch of great returners. We have some freshmen this year that will be ready to step into some of those roles and we have a great recruiting class coming in,” Horsmon said. “We’ll be ready to go.”
Follow @FlyerNews for updates from this weekend’s Atlantic 10 volleyball tournament.