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Volleyball Sweeps George Mason, 3-0 in Inaugural Match


By Harry Minium

Old Dominion University's women's volleyball team made a stunning and triumphant debut Friday afternoon, sweeping George Mason, 3-0, in the historic first game in ODU history.

Missed the match? View the entire replay here

The victory, especially one so lopsided, was unexpected in that George Mason, though just 4-22 last season, was an established team with a veteran lineup. ODU coach Fred Chao has ten freshmen or redshirt freshmen on his roster of 14 players.

The game was the first for a program that has been in the planning stages for nearly a decade. ODU spent $3.1 million over the last year renovating a basketball practice gym into the new ODU Volleyball Center, which has nearly 900 seats and high-end amenities.

Juiced up by the prospect of their first game, and a vocal but small crowd limited in size because of the pandemic, ODU (1-0) bolted to a quick 7-0 lead and won the first set, 25-10.
The second and third sets were closer, but ODU was poised each time the Patriots rallied.

"I'm really proud of the way the team came out and put their foot on the gas right out of the gate," Chao said. "When things got a bit dicey, they a did a nice job of hanging in there and turning things around."

Hear Fred Chao's post match press conference, here.

Things were a bit dicey in the second set, as ODU led, 20-19, and George Mason (0-1) was rallying. A George Mason player then rocketed the ball toward the sideline for what appeared to be a sure Patriots' point.

However, Jordan Daniel, a freshman from Virginia Beach's First Colonial High School, kept the ball alive with a diving dig.

ODU went on to win the point and the second set, 25-21.

The Monarchs won the third set by the same 25-21 margin, setting off a joyous celebration on the court.

Ashley Peroe, a redshirt freshman from Virginia Beach's Kellam High, had the first point in ODU history, striking a kill that bounced off a George Mason player and onto the court.

Setter Teresa Atilano, a freshman from San Diego who had 34 assists, said that while the players were full of adrenaline, they kept it under control.

"We were nervous but excited because of all of the anticipation," she said. "But once we hit the court it's clear we just had to do what we do every day in practice."

Chao, a George Mason alumnus, said he spent much of Friday morning sitting alone in his office contemplating all that has happened in the nearly two years since he was hired.

"Just seeing the girls come out and play the way they did, it made everything, everything we've done worthwhile," he said.

ODU hosts two more games this weekend, including 4 p.m. Saturday against VCU that promises to be a bigger challenge. The Rams were 24-7 last season, when they went to the NCAA tournament, and were picked to finish second in the Atlantic 10 this season.

VCU opened with a 3-0 victory at Liberty Friday.

ODU hosts Delaware State on Sunday at 3 p.m.

Fans will not be allowed into the VCU game, but a limited number can attend the Delaware State game. Fans are urged to arrive early, as they will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.