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Volleyball Earns First-Ever C-USA Victory with 3-1 Win over FIU

Mikey Berlfein

MIAMI, Fla. – After falling behind, 11-5 in the fourth set, Fred Chao and the Old Dominion women's volleyball team stormed back by mounting a 9-1 run to defeat FIU, 3-1 (16-25, 25-15, 25-14, 25-20) and earn its first-ever Conference USA victory in program history.

"I continue to be amazed by this team. It's fantastic that we earned our first conference win," explained Chao. "But the real victory is the step we took as a team to show resilience and maturity. The players worked at getting the mindset correct and made significant tactical adjustments from yesterday. Our young players showed poise and our older players stepped up and paved the way."
Alessia Sgherza recorded a season-high 18 kills while hitting .375 as she led the Monarchs to its first league win. The Massa, Italy native also added 20 points for ODU, which led the field in points scored. She also added two service aces for the Monarchs.
En route to her best performance yet, Freshman Teresa Atilano put together four service aces, six digs and 34 assists, all season-high numbers.
Valentina Culaciati had a breakout match, recording a season-high five kills, six blocks and a dig.
ODU (3-2, 1-1 C-USA) dropped its first set, 25-16 after FIU closed out the frame via a 5-2 run. The Monarchs, behind 1-0 after the first game put together a competitive second game, trading points with the Panthers for the first 10 points. ODU then put together a 9-1 scoring run to take a 19-11 advantage over the Panthers. FIU added four more points but the Monarchs were too much, earning the 25-15 win in the second set, tying up the match, 1-1.
The Monarchs came out hot in the third set, hitting .409 via kills from five different Monarchs in Sgherza (4), Hailey Duncan (4), Madelyn Grunza (2), Atilano (1) and Madeline Rudd (1). After leading by as many as 13, ODU won the third set in convincing fashion, 25-14.
In the fourth set, ODU was slow to start, allowing the Panthers to get ahead, 7-2. Sgherza notched a kill, which flipped momentum in favor of ODU. The Monarchs were able to close in on its deficit when knotting the game at 12-12 via another Sgherza kill. An FIU error allowed the Monarchs to take the 13-12 advantage and did not look back. ODU remained ahead of the Panthers the remainder of the way and a 4-0 scoring run to close out the fourth set solidified the Monarchs victorious afternoon over FIU.
For the day, ODU allowed just two Panther blocks while compiling 14 from the Monarch side. Freshman Jordan Daniel also tallied a whopping 14 digs against the Panthers offense.
Up Next
ODU will return home to take on No. 23 Western Kentucky at the ODU Volleyball Center on Sunday and Monday (Feb. 14-15) at noon.

Monarch Fan Cutouts
Due to popular demand, the Old Dominion University athletics department has made Monarch Fan Cutouts available for volleyball.
The "Monarch Cutouts", presented by Chartway, are available for $59 and will be in attendance at all home games for the 2021 season. Photos of the fan cutouts will be posted on social media throughout the season.
To order a fan cutout, click here.
Follow @ODUVB on Twitter and @oduvb on Instagram for the latest updates on the Monarchs.