Dayton Women’s Volleyball was predicted to hold its reign as Atlantic-10 Tournament Champions in a preseason poll conducted by the conference’s head coaches on August 20, a little over a week before the 2019 season started.
The preseason prediction is a major reflection of the team’s success last year. In 2018, the Flyers finished its conference 12-2 and defeated the VCU Rams, the regular season champions, for the A-10 Tournament title and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Overall, the team finished 23-8, adding to its now 24 consecutive winning seasons. Whatever the vote was based on, however, head coach Tim Horsmon said it means little for what the team expects of themselves this fall.
“Projections are projections, and I don’t know if you can ever put a lot of energy into it,” Horsmon said. “My guess is the rest of the league thought highly of our players who are coming back, but we tried to not give it too much thought.”
The returning players Horsmon referenced include four starters from 2018, such as the A-10 Rookie of the Year Alli Papesh, who was second on the team for kills in her first year at the collegiate level. Also returning to the court is All-American Brooke Westbeld, who currently holds the second-most triple-doubles in the NCAA. On top of these experienced Flyers, Horsmon also is looking forward to watching transfer student Rachael Fara, who has three years under her belt from playing at Northwestern University.
“She has played at a really high level and comes from a really good club,” Horsmon said. “As of right now we have some new players who are trying to get their feet underneath them with some great people in front of them. But Rachael is the closest to impacting us on the floor right away.”
The Flyers have certainly showed their ability to play with the best. Dayton beat the University of Pittsburgh, one of the top teams in the nation, in a preseason match, but couldn’t quite carry that momentum into the regular season.
The Flyers lost all three of their matches in the Louisville Cardinal Classic against tough opponents. Dayton fell to Texas A&M on Friday and then lost to two consecutive ranked opponents, No. 10 Florida and No. 25 Louisville, on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, respectively.
Dayton won in its first home game against Northern Illinois on Sept. 6 in the Dayton invitational.
As far as what their preseason prediction means for their future, the Flyers are focused on building from experience and continuing their success into this fall, without putting too much thought into what’s expected of them.
“In the end,” Horsmon said, “we are worried about the end polls, not the beginning ones.”
Cover photo courtesy of Dayton Athletics