By: Meaghan Mcnichol – Staff Writer
It has been an action-packed two weeks for the Dayton volleyball team.
Despite starting the season with a 0-4 record, the Flyers have found success in the last few weeks.
Two weekends ago, the Flyers played their first home matches of the season as they hosted the Dayton Invitational. On Friday, Sept. 11, they hosted Baylor. After a hard-fought match in front of a raucous crowd at the Frericks Center, the Flyers fell to the Bears, 3-2.
Despite their loss the night before, the women came back with a vengeance the following day and defeated Eastern Illinois and Cleveland State.
They first put away Eastern Illinois in the afternoon with a score of 3-1, improving their record to 3-5 on the season. During this match there were three Flyers, senior hitters Jill Loiars, Alaina Turner and Jenna Jendryk, with double digit kills.
In their next match that night, the Flyers continued their streak, sweeping Cleveland State. During this match senior middle blocker Angel Agu broke a personal record with 10 kills in the win for the Flyers, while Turner had a team high of 12 kills and 10 digs.
At the end of the invitational, the Flyers had improved their record to 4-5 on the season.
Head coach Tim Horsmon has seen improvement in the team not only from the start of this season but also from last season.
“I think we have to get a little better defensively, but in terms of especially how the offense is working, we are playing at a better clip right now than we did last season,” Horsmon said.
Although the team lost two seniors from last year’s squad, Isolde Hannan and Rachel Jones, the team dynamic has not changed drastically.
“They were a big part of our team,” Agu said. “However, I think with the new players that we have and the existing players we had last year, I think filling those roles isn’t too hard for us.”
In order to continue this success, the players are setting both individual and team goals.
“The biggest goal we want to achieve is making it to the Sweet Sixteen [of the NCAA Tournament] and then another is to go undefeated in conference which includes being all-conference champions and tournament champions as well,” Jendryk said.
These team goals are partly a result of outside expectations. The Flyers were chosen to win the Atlantic 10 by the conference’s head coaches prior to the season and are working to fulfill that assumption.
Both Agu and Jendryk believe that goal can be achieved by focusing on individual improvement.
“One of my goals is to be one of the top three blockers in our conference,” Agu said. “I know that’s something that I’ve really been trying to work on hard these past practices, and I think just [by] fine tuning some things I can obtain that.”
The Flyers showed their improvement and continued their success this past weekend at their
second home invitational, the Flyer Invitational.
This past Friday, the Flyers battled Illinois State. After losing the first set 25-20, they came back and won three sets in a row to win the match.
Turner led the match with 19 kills paired with 15 digs, leading to her sixth double-double of the season. Loiars also hit double digit kills with 16 and sophomore middle blocker Amber Erhahon contributed eight kills and seven blocks.
The following day, the Flyers swept both Jacksonville and Eastern Michigan.
The first match on Saturday against Jacksonville was a big game for redshirt sophomore setter Megan Giardina. Giardina, a transfer from Clemson in her first season as a Flyer, recorded a double-double with 23 assists and 12 digs. Defensively, Angel Agu had three blocks and senior libero Janna Krafka had nine digs.
The success continued into the second match against Eastern Michigan when the Flyers dominated in a three-set sweep, 25-11, 25-20, 25-19.
Erhahon had seven kills and hit an impressive .700. Turner and Loiars contributed to the success with 14 kills and 12 kills, respectively.
These past two weekends have been huge for the Flyers and they feel they couldn’t have done it without the help of the Flyer community.
“Home court advantage helps us dramatically,” Horsmon said. “If you’ve ever been to a volleyball match, it’s when the Red Scare and the communities [are] here that makes this one of the best gyms in the country to play in.”
After six straight home matches, the Flyers will be traveling to Pittsburgh Friday to take on the Duquesne Dukes. They will then head to Philadelphia Sunday to face La Salle.
Although home court will not be an advantage for the Flyers this coming weekend, they are confident that they can continue their success.
“We expect our kids to achieve and be great every day in practice,” Horsmon said. “And then to get to those weekends and control the controllables.”
Photo: Alaina Turner goes down for a dig during Saturday’s match against Eastern Michigan, a 3-0 sweep for the Flyers. Turner led all attackers with 14 kills. Chris Santucci/Multimedia Editor