By: KEITH RAAD, Staff Writer
Amid the roaring crowd in Duquesne University’s A.J. Palumbo Center, located in the Bluff of Pittsburgh, Pa., the University of Dayton volleyball team went down 3-1 (18-25, 25-16, 17-25, 21-25), falling to 10-11 overall and 4-5 in the Atlantic 10 Conference Saturday, Oct. 26.
The Dukes (14-8, 8-1) won their seventh straight A-10 match, solidifying their best start in conference history.
For Duquesne fans, it was not only their seventh in a row, but the first time in nine years they saw the Dukes beat the Flyers. Dayton was 16-0 against Duquesne since Nov. 13, 2004, but senior outside hitter Allison Foschia and freshman defensive specialist Sammy Kline ended the streak with exceptional individual play.
Foschia led all scorers with 14 kills and 13 digs, while Kline stuck a career-high 28 digs. Kline and Duquesne’s back row notched 82 digs, their highest total in conference play this season.
Assistant coach Ryan Freeburg noted the hunger and energy the Dukes showed throughout the match. He mentioned that it’s something the Flyers have been missing.
“They had a great energy about the way they played,” Freeburg said. “We don’t have that. It’s harder to get that on the road. It’s hard to get in a place like they did.”
Sophomore outside hitter Jill Loiars slammed 13 kills while redshirt senior outside hitter Shayne Brown had 10 to lead Dayton offensively. Dayton’s back row grabbed as many digs as possible against Duquesne, a team that makes little error at the net. Duquesne’s hitting percentage is at the top of the A-10 at .223.
“The thing about them is that they’ve become very low-error,” Freeburg said. “They said to us, ‘we’re not going to terminate the ball negatively. We’re going to put it in play and see what you can do with it.’ That’s something that they’ve developed. Even from their young players we saw that.”
Sophomore libero Janna Krafka had 18 digs, junior defensive specialist Rachel Jones had 14 and senior defensive specialist Allyson Morey had 13. Still, it was not enough to stop Duquesne’s 51 kills.
“Defensively we had a week to prepare for these guys and we just didn’t have great awareness,” Freeburg said. “But the good news is that these are all things you can fix.”
Though the Flyers fell in four sets, the second set deserves some highlighting. After falling 25-18 in set one, Dayton made light work of the Dukes in the second, winning 25-16.
“Our biggest problem is staying consistent,” redshirt sophomore Angel Agu said. “We have times where we are playing great and other times where we just have endless unforced errors. We just need to find that balance and to continue to grow from there.”
Freeburg said Dayton’s potential is there and has no doubts about the talent of this team. Picked to finish first in the A-10 preseason poll, Dayton currently sits in sixth place – the final spot to make the conference tournament.
“You look at a season and there’s always the ‘should’ but you still have to go out and do it,” Freeburg said.
“Fundamentally we could be better. Our energy is something we need to address head on, and I think everything else is really tied up in there.”
Agu thinks the problem lies in energy as well. For her, some players have it, and others need follow along.
“We need to work on playing like a unit,” Agu said. “We need to flow together as a team instead of playing as individuals.”
With five A-10 matches to go before the conference tournament, Dayton’s energy problems are the team’s biggest issue. Freeburg believes they need this fixed before other aspects of their game can click.
“The proper communication and the proper mind-set are good mixes for the proper energy,” Freeburg said. “It’s a mentality thing more than anything. It’s in the way you move and in the way you act.”