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Volleyball Falls to Loyola (Md.) in Three Sets to Conclude ODU Invitational

Keith Lucas

NORFOLK, Va. – The Old Dominion volleyball team lost a three-set match (25-16, 25-23, 25-15) to Loyola (Md.) on Saturday afternoon at the ODU Volleyball Center. The match concluded the Old Dominion Invitational, the first tournament ever hosted by the Monarchs.
"Overall, it was a good learning weekend," head coach Fred Chao said. "We were able to see some different faces on court and gain some valuable experience. We have a good idea of areas of improvement and have to keep putting the work in. The competition was great, and I appreciate all of the teams coming to our first tournament."
The Monarchs (1-2) hit .073 as a team while the Greyhounds (2-1) notched a .227 attack percentage. Hailey Duncan led the way for ODU with seven kills on 17 total swings (.353) and five total blocks, setting the game high in blocks and the team lead in kills. Jamie Bissmeyer set a new personal best with 19 digs.
ODU hit -.062 in the opening set, losing  25-16. Trailing 14-11, Old Dominion scored four unanswered to take a 15-12 lead, its first since being up 4-3. However, the Greyhounds responded with 11 of the set's final 12 points, including an 8-0 run to close out the set.
The Monarchs found a better attacking rhythm in the second set, a close 25-23 loss. ODU hit .175 in the second, its best attacking percentage of the match. Duncan notched four of her seven kills in the second set, all on just eight swings. Olivia De Jesus added three kills in the second at a .429 attacking clip.
The Greyhounds jumped out to an early 3-1 advantage in the second, but the set quickly tightened up. ODU stacked three kills in a row, two by Duncan, to pull ahead 4-3. From there, the two teams went point-for-point with the lead never going above two  for the middle portion of the set. Another kill from Duncan put ODU on top 14-13, but Loyola notched five of the next six points to go ahead 18-15. The Monarchs made one final push with a 6-1 run – highlighted by kills from De Jesus, Ashley Peroe and Teresa Atilano – before Loyola successfully closed out the set with six of the final eight points.
The script remained the same in the third set – a closely-contested beginning ending with a decisive Loyola run. ODU built an early 5-4 lead behind its defense at the net. Of the Monarchs' first five points in the third set, three came by way of blocks. Old Dominion finished the third set with four blocks and tallied nine for the match. Peroe finished the day with four blocks, one off her career-high, and Myah Conway and De Jesus added three as well.
Momentum in the decisive set quickly swung in the Greyhounds' favor, where it would stay until the end. Loyola responded with four unanswered to lead 9-6 and never trailed again.
Atilano led the Monarchs with 21 total assists and added four digs. Conway tallied eight digs to set a new personal best.
Sophie Brenner led all participants with 17 kills on 33 total attempts (.424) and added 15 digs for a double-double. Abby Hamilton tallied 14 kills and seven digs for Loyola. Katie Forsythe led all players with 22 digs.
De Jesus earned a spot on the Old Dominion Invitational All-Tournament Team after averaging 2.15 points, 1.30 kills and 0.80 blocks per set across three matches. West Virginia's Briana Lynch was named the event's most valuable player.
ODU returns to competition on Sept. 3 and 4 with the Black & Gold Challenge, hosted by Appalachian State in Boone, North Carolina. The Monarchs play East Tennessee State (10 a.m.) and Appalachian State (7 p.m.) on Friday and Kansas City (11 a.m.) on Saturday.
Old Dominion Invitational Most Valuable Player
Briana Lynch, West Virginia
Old Dominion Invitational All-Tournament Team
Olivia De Jesus, Old Dominion
Katie Forsythe, Loyola (Md.)
Abby Hamilton, Loyola (Md.)
Briana Lynch, West Virginia
Jessica Pugh, Hampton
Skye Stokes, West Virginia
Lacey Zerwas, West Virginia