Flyers volleyball punches ticket to NCAA Tournament with 3-0 win over VCU in A-10 Championship Final

The Flyers volleyball team poses with the Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship trophy after their 3-0 win over VCU Saturday. Photo courtesy of Peter Burtnett, Flyer News.

Peter Burtnett
Sports Editor

With an Atlantic 10 championship and appearance in the NCAA Tournament on the line, the Dayton Flyers volleyball team won in straight sets over VCU Saturday at the Frericks Center to sweep the A-10 regular season and tournament championships.

The game matched up the two teams who have won each of the A-10 regular season championships and tournaments over the last six years. It was also a rematch between the best A-10 teams in the 2021 regular season, and the Flyers looked to recreate what they did in their 3-0 win on March 6 in Dayton.

The Flyers picked up where they left off the day before against Fordham by storming out to a 7-1 lead, forcing VCU to call timeout. Within eight points, the Flyers already led kills 4-0 and were on a 5-0 run.

The Rams climbed quickly back to cut the deficit to one with several kills from sophomore Qairo Bentley. However, the Flyers used a series of blocks, kills and an ace to push the lead up to 17-9 and force the VCU timeout.

Redshirt junior outside hitter Jamie Peterson closed the first set with a kill, her sixth of the set, and the Flyers won 25-15. The Flyers finished the first set leading kills 17-13.

The second set was more competitive, and a 6-0 scoring run by the Rams forced the Flyers to call timeout trailing 8-4. The run extended to 8-0 before the Flyers got a point back.

However, the Flyers were able to fight back and cut the deficit to 13-11, forcing the Rams to call timeout. 

The Flyers were able to earn a couple of brief leads, but the Rams went back in front 20-18, forcing a timeout by Flyers head coach Tim Horsmon. Still leading kills throughout the game 26-22, the Flyers were running out of time to win the second set.

The second set went down to the wire, with both teams exchanging points. The Flyers led 24-22 and had a set point, but the Rams responded to tie the set at 24. The Flyers got a kill from redshirt middle blocker Amelia Moore to once again reach set point, and after a return effort by the Rams from a serve by freshman outside hitter Lexie Almodovar was blocked, the Flyers took the second set 26-24. 

Moore led the team with 8 kills, and Peterson and Almodovar combined for 13 more. Meanwhile, A-10 Setter of the Year Bridger Doherty added 6 kills of her own and continued to set up her teammates for kills.

The third set continued to be well-balanced, until a 3-0 scoring run culminating in a block by Moore sent the Flyers into the media timeout with a 15-11 lead.

Holding the four-point advantage, the Flyers led 18-14 when the Rams called timeout.

The Flyers held the Rams at arms-length, and after a serve from junior libero Maura Collins, graduate outside hitter Mahalia Swink blocked a Rams attack, and the Flyers won the final set 25-19 to win the A-10 Tournament Championship Final.

After the game, Almodovar, Moore, Doherty and Peterson were named to the All-Championship Team, and Peterson earned Most Outstanding Player honors.

With the straight-set win, the Flyers earn their first conference tournament championship since 2018, and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. When the tournament bracket was announced, the Flyers  were matched up against Towson, who they will face April 14 in Omaha, Neb. at 3:30 p.m. With a win, the Flyers would face No. 6 Washington.

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