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Volleyball Rebounds with 3-1 Win at Florida Atlantic

Keith Lucas

BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Old Dominion volleyball team bounced back with a 3-1 win over Florida Atlantic inside FAU Arena on Saturday afternoon to pick up its first Conference USA win of the season and split the two-match series with the Owls.
"I'm happy to finish the weekend with a conference win," head coach Fred Chao said. "Both matches were tough but for different reasons. Friday, we didn't get to our edge until the third set, and FAU made us pay. They were powerful from the service line and from their outside attackers. When we finally stood up to the pressure, I thought we did okay, but still mentally behind the game. Today, we made tactical adjustments that certainly helped, but I believe we stepped up to the mark earlier and found our level for the match. We are still gaining valuable experiences in terms of travel and competing in conference matches where the stakes are high."
Alessia Sgherza notched a season-high 15 kills in the win and added seven digs. Madeline Rudd contributed 10 kills for the Monarchs (8-6, 1-1), and Hailey Duncan notched nine kills and three blocks. 
ODU outlasted FAU (9-6, 1-1) 27-25 in the opening set behind five kills from Rudd and a trio of service aces by Anna Burkhardt. The Owls started the set on a 6-0 run and were up 9-2 before the Monarchs began chipping away. Old Dominion pulled to within two at 11-9 on the strength of one of their four blocks in the set before the home team scored the next three points. FAU held leads of 20-15 and 24-22, but the Monarchs tied the set at 24-all. ODU faced set point at 25-24 before scoring the final three points on a Rudd kill and consecutive aces from Burkhardt.
The Monarchs had just seven kills and hit .065 as a team in the second set, dropping it 25-19. ODU was in the set early and led as late as the 11-10 juncture. FAU went ahead for good at 12-11, but the Monarchs stayed within two points before the Owls scored three unanswered to go up 18-14. Back-to-back attack errors by FAU made the score 18-16, but seven of the final 10 points of the set went to the Owls.
Old Dominion hit .538 as a team in a 25-12 win in the third set. The Monarchs tallied 15 kills on 26 total attempts and committed just one attack error. Sgherza had six kills in the third on eight swings (.750), and Duncan and Rudd each had three kills. ODU broke a 2-2 tie with a 6-0 run. FAU scored back-to-back points to pull to within seven at 18-11, but a 5-0 Monarch run ensued to shut the door on any possible comeback bid.
The Monarchs finished off the match with a 25-21 win in the fourth set. Six different players contributed at least one kill in the fourth. The Owls started quickly and soon led 5-1. FAU maintained that lead into the late stages of the set, when ODU uncorked a 7-0 run to go ahead 19-16. Rudd capped off the run with two-straight kills. FAU tied the set at 21-21, but a kill from Sgherza broke the tie and started a 4-0 run for ODU. Teresa Atilano scored an ace to make it 23-21, and Madelyn Grunza won the set with a kill.
ODU notched eight aces in the match with three coming from Burkhardt and two more from Olivia De Jesus. Burkhardt added seven digs as well, and De Jesus had nine kills and four blocks.
Atilano handed out 37 assists and added eight digs. Jordan Daniel set the match high with 24 digs.
The Monarchs return to the ODU Volleyball Center on Friday (Oct. 1) and Saturday (Oct. 2) for a pair of nonconference matches with UAB. Friday's match begins at 6 p.m., and Saturday's contest starts at noon.