Flyers volleyball finishes successful season with NCAA loss to Penn State
By: Meaghan Mcnichol – Staff Writer
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The Dayton volleyball team took the 2015 season by storm.
The Flyers came back from a 0-4 start and polished off the season with a 27-6 overall record, 14-0 conference record, Atlantic 10 championship and second consecutive trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The women entered the A-10 championship with a 21-game winning streak and increased that streak by two as they conquered the title for the second year in a row.
The Flyers earned a bye to the semifinals, where they defeated George Washington 3-2.
In this match, senior outside hitter Alaina Turner led the Flyers in double-digit kills with a match-high 18 to go with 13 digs for the team’s only double-double. Senior outside hitter Jill Loiars contributed with 15 kills, along with five blocks.
After this match, the women advanced to the A-10 championship, where they swept the Saint Louis Billikens.
With nine kills and 10 digs in the final match, Turner was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. Loiars joined Turner on the All-Tournament Team, leading Dayton with 10 kills in the title game.
Sophomore setter Jane Emmenecker was also recognized on the All-Tournament roster after setting 33 assists on the afternoon.
During this tournament, Dayton set a league-record by earning its 10th tournament title, including its sixth in the last seven years, as well as advancing to a 23-game winning streak—the nation’s second-longest active streak at the time.
“Winning is like an addiction, once you get a little taste you just want to keep going, and that’s what we did,” Emmenecker said in an interview with Flyer News.
The Flyers continued their streak for two more games with a sweep of Ohio University in their last regular season game and a 3-1 win over Villanova in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“Beating Villanova was one of the best highlights of the season,” senior outside hitter Jenna Jendryk said. “It was a tough game, but we were able to win it.”
In the second round, the Flyers took on perennial power and two-time defending champion Penn State for the second straight year. Although it was a well-fought battle, the Flyers fell to the Big Ten Nittany Lions 3-1.
While Penn State put the Flyers’ winning streak to an end, the Flyers have expressed nothing but pride when looking back on their 2015 season.
Head coach Tim Horsmon hopes to perform as well next season.
“This program’s been about greatness, so we are going to continue to strive toward greatness,” Horsmon said.
The Flyers are dedicating this off-season to improving every way possible.
“Just getting 1 percent better every day is a big thing for us,” Emmenecker said. “We are working on trying to develop our skills and develop new skills along with old skills.”
Horsmon and the team started looking toward next season since their streak ended in the second round of the NCAA tournament. While losing a big player like Turner—along with Loiars, Jendryk, two-time Atlantic 10 Libero of the Year Janna Krafka and middle blocker Angel Agu—will be a challenge for the team, Horsmon has high expectations in his returning players and incoming recruits.
“I think we have a lot of players within the program that have the ability to be great leaders,” Horsmon said. “We probably haven’t asked as much as we’ve needed to out of the younger group because we had such great leaders within the senior class, but I think this spring will be an important time for them to establish themselves in that role.”
This offseason will be dedicated to developing leadership and polishing the skills that resulted in such great success for the Flyers during the 2015 season.
“This offseason, there will be a lot of training. We have some really talented athletic players who are going to need to work on some skill pieces by just developing better chemistry,” Horsmon said. “We need them to fill in some roles they haven’t played before.”
Although a 25-game winning streak might be tough to beat, if there’s any team that can do it it’s going to be the 2016 Flyers volleyball team.
Staff writer Katie Obear contributed to this story.