The Flyers volleyball team celebrates after their 3-1 win over Saint Louis at Frericks Center Sunday. Photo courtesy of Zach Merz, Flyer News.
Peter Burtnett | Sports Editor
The Dayton Flyers volleyball team continues to dominate the Atlantic 10, with their winning streak now extended to seven after a weekend of victories at the Frericks Center.
After wins over George Washington, George Mason and Duquesne (away and home), the Flyers continued their run with a home win over VCU in four sets Oct. 7.
The Flyers narrowly won the first set 25-23, but the second set took everything they had. Trailing by as much as 13-5 early in the set, the Flyers fought back, and after they tied the set at 18 each, neither team took more than a two-point lead, going all the way well beyond the usual 25 points and into the 30s. On a block by redshirt freshman Alayna Yates and senior Jamie Peterson, the Flyers took the second set 38-36.
“I’m so old now that I have been around some of those types of sets (before), so (I’m) probably not as phased early in the year,” head coach Tim Horsmon said. “But it was fun to see, we were probably one more point away from losing, so I think we had to keep battling to stay in, so I love that. Our players found ways to compete in those moments and then found a way at the end to win that set, and very easily that could have won the match for us… Looking back in hindsight, that was a pretty important set for us.”
VCU controlled the third set, but never led by more than six and won the set 25-23. The fourth set was once again a tight battle, with another combo block coming from Peterson and Yates to put away the set and the game for the Flyers’ fifth A-10 win.
Peterson finished with 20 kills and 14 digs, while Yates tallied a career-high 14 kills and match-high nine blocks. With so many points to go around, several other Flyers had career performances. Sophomore Livie Sandt racked up a match-high 48 assists, her fourth match this season with 40 or more assists, senior Maura Collins got 17 digs to lead the Flyers, and junior Elizabeth House reached a career-high with 15 digs.
“I think we worked really hard at our middle attack, I think that got better,” Horsmon said. “Livie Sandt worked really hard at the setting piece, and that for us, as our quarterback, I think she’s growing every day. In the last couple of weeks, how we’ve been more composed, I think they’re enjoying playing a little bit more for each other and what that looks like, so I think overall we’re getting better.”
On Oct. 9 at home was Davidson, which made for an easier win for the Flyers. It was a straight-sets win (25-18, 25-10, 25-18), as Collins finished with 16 digs, Peterson had a career-high seven service aces (13 aces for the Flyers combined) and Yates led all attackers 10 kills.
Finally, the Flyers recognized World Mental Health Day against the Saint Louis Billikens on Sunday.
— Dayton Volleyball (@DaytonVB) October 10, 2021
In the first set, the Flyers won comfortably, but the Billikens responded with a tight 25-22 win in the second set.
The Flyers strung together two strong sets to close out the four-set victory, winning 25-21 and 25-19. Sandt finished with 41 assists and 12 digs, Peterson tallied 25 kills and 11 digs, while Yates added 11 kills and posted a .529 hitter percentage to go with six blocks.
“This weekend was pretty big for us, having VCU and Saint Louis,” Horsmon said. “I think it was at this point probably a three-team race, and the great thing was we got them at home. VCU was really close on every set… and then Saint Louis also (was) really tough this weekend.”
Next up, the Flyers (13-5 overall, 7-0 A-10) take a short break from Atlantic 10 play with a home match against Xavier on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Back in A-10 play, two more home matches follow against Rhode Island (Friday at 7 p.m.) and Fordham (Oct. 17 at 1 p.m.).
“(To keep winning) I think it’s about the players staying fresh right now and finding ways in order to get them some physical, mental, emotional breaks, which we probably have not given them a lot of because of the amount of matches. I think this is eight or nine matches in the last couple of weeks, which is probably far too many. Our kids are pretty tough in moments like that, so to show up again tomorrow (against Xavier) and then another conference weekend this weekend, so (the players) need to stay healthy and one day at a time and get in the gym and stay composed in those moments.”
Although Horsmon said he’s “not sure” why the Flyers were home during the university’s fall break and that the team missed Red Scare and the atmosphere, they are “excited to be back in (Frericks).”
“We’re pretty good at home and over the last 15 years or so, we have a pretty dominant record here,” Horsmon said. “So we like being at home, and it’s nice to sleep in your own bed.”