UD sophomore outside hitter Jill Loiars (9) hits during a game against Bowling Green State University, Friday, Nov. 29, at the Frericks Center. With the 3-1 win, UD ended its season at 16-13. (San Kumar/ Staff Photographer)
By: Keith Raad – Staff Writer
They came full circle.
In the final game of the 2013 season, and the final game of their careers, the three University of Dayton volleyball senior captains. Shayne Brown, Megan Campbell and Allyson Morey did something they’ve never done before.
Three storied careers with a combined 10 Atlantic 10 Conference regular season championships and 10 A-10 Tournament championships were not able to make it through the 2013 A-10 Tournament. Instead of being eliminated to end their season in the first or second rounds of an NCAA Tournament, they poetically finished with a win.
In front of a home crowd at the Frericks Center on Friday, Nov. 29, the Flyers defeated Bowling Green State University 3-1 (25-22, 24-26, 25-23, 25-20).
“I’m sorry to them that I couldn’t get them to where they wanted to go,” head coach Matt Affolder said about getting back to the NCAA Tournament. “But at the same time I’m happy that those guys get to win their last match. That’s one thing they never did.”
Morey, who came to the UD as a setter back in 2010, returned to her original position against BGSU after four years as a defensive specialist. She set for the Flyers after sophomore setter Jenna Jendryk injured her right knee during a match against Duquesne University in the semi-finals of the A-10 Tournament.
“I think it’s cool that Ally Morey came full circle for us,” Affolder said. “The way that it ended in Washington D.C. with Jenna going down, sometimes you don’t understand why things happen. But they battled…a lot of people could have been really ticked off, not wanting to be there.”
The seniors ended with a bang. Morey had 46 assists and nine digs, Campbell had 15 kills and a hitting percentage of .433, and Brown scored a double-double with 13 kills and 15 digs.
“I’m really happy for them,” Affolder said. “They are champions. Their legacy is going to be etched here.”
Beating the Falcons capped off a tough season for the Flyers, which they finished 16-13, their worst winning percentage since 1999. But it was what hid behind the final standings for Dayton that truly encompassed the tremendous obstacles the team faced.
A new coaching staff with new faces and new roles gave the team something different to work with right off the bat.
For first-year assistant coach Ryan Freeburg, it was a year of growth for him and the team.
“This was a huge growing year for those guys,” Freeburg said. “Last year some of them got playing time, some of them didn’t. Janna [Krafka] was the libero last year, but the load was different this year. Janna had to be the number one passer this year.”
At the end of year one in his position, Freeburg noted the coaching flow that began to form little-by-little each day.
“My experience tells me it takes about a year to figure that out when you get somewhere new,” Freeburg said. “Do you need to be the guy that’s checking people? Do you need to be the guy that is positive? Do you need to be the guy that’s a little more friendly to the players? More stern? Those are the things you find out, and I think we’re getting to that point as a staff where we’re not in cruise control but we’re finding out what everyone’s job is and how it works.”
As for the girls taking a new role, both Affolder and Freeburg agreed on how special the future will be for this team.
“Jill Loiars just got better and better and better as the season went on,” Affolder said of his sophomore outside hitter who had four double-digit kill matches in her last five matches.“Janna was ridiculous for the last three weeks.”
Krafka averaged 5.42 digs per set in the last three matches of the season, and showed improvement from the 4.27 digs she averaged leading up to those final matches.
“These girls were in a supporting role last year while this year they had to be the guy,” Freeburg said. “Next year it won’t be, ‘hey, this is the first time we’ve done this,’ but ‘we’re established now.’”
With the new roster and new leaders, a new legacy begins for Affolder next season.
“We’re going to work for that conference tournament,” Affolder said. “We’re going to work toward that second win and into the Sweet 16 [of the NCAA Tournament].”
One freshman asset for next season that impressed Affolder and the coaches was Aubreigh Applegate. The freshman defensive specialist tallied a career-high 19 digs in the BGSU win.
“What we saw out of Applegate was electric and fast and confident and I love that,” Affolder said. “I can’t wait to work with her again in the spring.”
Applegate is from Muncie, Ind., just like Morey.
A new circle?
You’ll have to watch next year.