The Dayton Flyers volleyball team poses with the A-10 trophy after winning the conference tournament in April 2021. Photo courtesy of Peter Burtnett, Flyer News.
Reporting by Taylor Robertson
Flyers volleyball has gone undefeated in conference play, making them the 2021 Atlantic 10 regular season champions. This is their 15th time securing this championship and their fifth time going undefeated in conference play in program history.
Amelia Moore, Livie Sandt, and head coach Tim Horsmon shared their thoughts on this season.
Moore is a redshirt sophomore out of Ocean Springs, Miss., and was named to the 2020-21 A-10 All-Conference First Team and All-Championship Team. The middle blocker started in all 16 matches and currently leads the A-10 in blocks, with 96, this season. She also tallied a career-high of 13 kills at Saint Louis on Feb. 13.
When asked about what playing Saint Louis meant to Moore, she responded, “SLU has always been a competitive team in the A-10, they bring out the competitive side in us. They are after us, as we are after them.” Moore went on to say that the team is “scrappy with great attackers.”
The Flyers came out on top 3-1 against Saint Louis on Friday, Nov. 12 to close the regular season.
Livie Sandt is also a redshirt sophomore. She ranks second in the A-10 at 887 for total assists this season. Sandt faced injuries towards the beginning of this season but her condition has improved since. The setter battled shin splints in August and was made aware of a possible stress fracture in her foot.
Sandt explained, “Coming back from it, I didn’t miss any games. Other positions like me were more injured. I was with Caitlin (Fater), our personal trainer two hours every day. Managing myself at practice, [getting] new shoes, and (shoe) inserts helped. I’m playing back to normal.”
Moore and Sandt reflected on playing top ranked teams Louisville, Wisconsin, and most challenging of all Kentucky, the defending national champion to start off the season in August.
Moore relayed the importance of underdog mentality for the team. “We go into every match thinking we are going to play someone better. It was a growing game, and we refer back to that point a lot. We’ve grown so much since then [and took it as] learning lessons,” said Moore.
Sandt also commented on playing top teams in the beginning of the volleyball season.
“It’s super exciting to get to play those teams. It’s rewarding to know those teams want you on their schedule . This year we used those as learning opportunities. UK was rough start, but by the time we played Wisconsin, we had already grown and could battle through a more difficult match. We can use them to learn off of as well,” said Sandt.
Head coach Tom Horsmon had some additional comments.
“We got to play two of best teams in country. [You see] why they’re so good and how well coached they are. You ask, how close are you to being able to do those things? We can play with the best teams in the country and we are constantly working on consistency.”
The Flyers are currently led by seven seniors on their roster. All players were given an extra year of eligibility last year due to COVID-19, so in technicality two of its seven seniors could play again next season if they choose. The seniors are Mikaylah Van Lanen, Elizabeth House, Maura Collins, Alli Papesh, Molly Asmus, Jamie Peterson and Mahalia Swink.
After the win, Peterson reflected on her time being coached by Horsmon.
“Coach has taught me a lot of very valuable lessons that I will carry with me for a lifetime,” Peterson said, “but one of the biggest lessons he has taught me is that we only get to live on this earth for so long and there is no pride in being mediocre while we are here. He has taught me that greatness takes hard work, sacrifice and it takes a willingness to fail. In order to be great in this lifetime you have to be willing to embrace failure. That lesson I will carry on with me the rest of my life.”
Swink said she is grateful she made the decision to transfer to Dayton.
“My experience playing for the Flyers has been one that I am very grateful for and will hold close to me forever. Coming to Dayton I knew that I was going to be pushed not only by the coaches but by the players as well. On any given night anyone can play at every position. That is a part of the legacy here at Dayton and what makes Dayton volleyball so good consistently.”
Moore, Sandt, and Horsmon reflected on what the seniors brought to the team this season.
“All of them are great leaders. Maura is fiery and competitive. Jamie is consistent. Molly and Alli are the eyes of the court and give great feedback,” said Moore.
Sandt went on to say, “Every senior brings something different to the table with different personalities and physical abilities. I’ve been lucky enough to play with these seniors now for three years. [However], they’ve left an impact on players they were only with for one year and they positively affected those players. This group is really special. Some have been here for four years, some six. It’ll be a change next year for sure.”
Coach Horsmon expressed that senior day is an emotional game.
“You celebrate all successes and work they put into the program. There’s also an awareness that they’re not going be here much longer. This group of seven have put a lot into the program and continue the legacy on what it means to be a Dayton Flyer. They put us in a really good spot moving forward.”
Horsmon coached the Flyers from 2003 to 2007, then spent six years with the University of Maryland. When he had the opportunity to come back to Dayton, he jumped at it.
“I had such a good experience at UD. It’s a special university and program,” said Horsmon.
The Flyers are on a 17-game win streak going into the A-10 Tournament. When asked about what this win streak does for the team, Horsmon claimed, “We don’t spend a lot of time on things that have happened. We try to get better every day for practice. We look forward most of the time. There’s three weeks left and we are focused on the conference championship.”
Sandt commented on the win streak and not getting too comfortable.
“Our main focus in practice is getting one percent better every day after a weekend (off). This group is special because we know there is more work to be done. Us having that awareness and want to get better is what continues to push us. Good is never good enough in this program. We’re never complacent.”
Coach Horsmon plans on doing the same thing his team has been doing all year to prepare for the A-10 Tournament.
“We try to be better in drills we run. Individually, be physically, mentally and emotionally tough in practices, which leads to weekends. We try to play our best volleyball at the right time.”
When asked how to motivate his players, Horsmon explained, “You can’t motivate, you can only inspire as a coach. [The] best thing we can do is recruit players who are motivated. The majority of our players want to be really good, so we don’t have to work too hard for those things.”
The Flyers will head to Pittsburgh, Pa., for the Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 20 and face the winner of Davidson and Duquesne. They look to claim their third A-10 Championship in a row. Led by two-time A-10 Player of the Year Jamie Peterson and A-10 blocks leader Amelia Moore, the Flyers look to make a statement this weekend.