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Volleyball Splits Pair of Matches at Black & Gold Challenge on Friday

Keith Lucas

BOONE, N.C. – The Old Dominion volleyball team went 1-1 on the opening day of the Black & Gold Challenge at the Holmes Convocation Center on the campus of Appalachian State. The Monarchs dropped a 3-1 decision to East Tennessee State in the opening match before bouncing back with a 3-1 win over Appalachian State.
ODU 3, Appalachian State 1
The Monarchs (2-3) turned in their second-best attacking performance of the young season on Friday night to beat the hosts in four sets. ODU tallied 51 kills against the Mountaineers (2-3) while posting a .197 hitting percentage. Only against Hampton in the season opener did Old Dominion have more kills in a match or turn in a higher hitting percentage.
Three Monarchs hit double-digits in kills, led by freshman Myah Conway's personal-best 13. Hailey Duncan and Alessia Sgherza both had 10 kills each. Duncan was highly efficient on Friday night, committing one attack error and taking only 20 total swings. Her attacking percentage of .450 marks a new single-match record at ODU (min. 20 attempts). Conway needed only 25 attempts for her 13 kills and committed three errors for a hitting percentage of .400.
ODU was equally impressive defensively, finishing the contest with 14 total blocks, a new single-match team record. Duncan had seven blocks in the nightcap, Olivia De Jesus had five and four other Monarchs were credited with three blocks.
The Monarchs also tallied 58 digs against App State. Jordan Daniel matched her own single-match digs record with 21. Anna Burkhardt set a career-high with 14.
Old Dominion rode a hot attack to a 25-19 win in the first set. Each of the Monarchs' first six attacks produced a kill, and the team finished the set with a .367 attacking percentage. Clinical finishing allowed ODU to build a 9-2 lead, and the Monarchs kept the Mountaineers at arm's length for the remainder of the set with their lead never dipping below three points.
ODU outlasted its hosts 28-26 in a wild second set that featured 13 ties and five lead. Conway notched six of her 13 kills in the second set with the final coming in crunch time. She broke ties of 24-24, 25-25 and 26-26, each time giving the Monarchs a chance to win the set. ODU finally produced the winning point by way of a Teresa Atilano kill.
Appalachian State prolonged the match with a 25-22 win in the third set. The Mountaineers hit at a .400 clip in the set – by far their highest attacking percentage of the night – and had 18 total kills. ODU built a 17-10 advantage. From there, the home team scored nine of the next 10 points to go ahead by one, 19-18. The Monarchs strung together back-to-back points to retake the lead, but it would not last long as App State closed out the set on a 6-2 run.
Old Dominion fell behind early in the fourth but rebounded to the tune of a 25-22 win in the deciding set. Appalachian State won the first four points of the set, but the Monarchs were soon on top 8-6. After that, the two sides stayed within two points of each other until the closing stretch of another see-saw set. A 3-0 run put the Mountaineers ahead 22-21, but Old Dominion scored the last four points of the set to seal the win.
Madeline Rudd had six kills off the bench for ODU, a season high for her. Atilano fell one dig short of a double-double as she handed out 43 assists, the most from the native of San Diego this season.
The Monarchs hit .122 in the match, while the Buccaneers (2-3) posted an attacking percentage of .246. Duncan and De Jesus led the way for ODU with seven kills each, and a total of six Monarchs tallied five or more kills.
ETSU took the opening set 25-19 behind a team hitting percentage of .300. The Buccaneers won the first three points of the set and never trailed. A 5-1 scoring run from Old Dominion drew the Monarchs to within two at 19-17. From there, ETSU scored six of the final eight points, including four unanswered to halt ODU's momentum, to win the set.
Old Dominion responded with an identical 25-19 result in the second set to tie up the match. The Monarchs attacked at a .500 clip in the set – tallying 14 kills with only two errors on 24 total swings. Ashley Peroe notched four kills in the second set and finished the contest with a season-best six. ODU led 4-0 to start the set and eventually built a six-point cushion at 12-6. ETSU pushed back to within a point on the strength of a 7-2 run, but the Monarchs retained control of the lead throughout the set.
The Buccaneers won the third set 25-21. De Jesus notched three of her game-high five blocks in the third, and Sgherza was credited with two blocks in the set as well. The Monarchs found themselves in an early 6-2 hole and never overcame that deficit despite several late surges. ODU scored four unanswered to make the margin 17-12. Following three unanswered points by ETSU, seven of the next nine points went to Old Dominion. Down three points at 22-19, the Monarchs were unable to string together one final run and dropped the set.
De Jesus added two more kills in the final set, which the Buccaneers took 25-8.
Julia Dunning handed out a career-high 19 assists in the match, splitting time at setter with Atilano (13 assists). Daniel set the game high in digs with 15, a season high. She now has 10 career matches with 10 or more digs at ODU. Sgherza tallied six kills and 12 digs. Duncan added three blocks to her seven kills.
Kira Smith finished the match with five kills and three service aces.
ETSU's Josannah Vazquez led all with 19 kills and added 12 digs for a double-double. Caroline Dykes served up 41 assists.
ODU concludes the Black & Gold Challenge against Kansas City on Saturday at 11 a.m.