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Volleyball Sets Single-Match Block Records in 3-2 Win over UAB

Keith Lucas

NORFOLK, Va. – The Old Dominion volleyball team overcame deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 to prevail over visiting UAB 3-2 on Friday night inside the ODU Volleyball Center. Friday night's nonconference match featured 27 total ties and 10 lead changes and saw the Monarchs set new program records for single-match blocks by an individual (Olivia De Jesus, 13) and by a team (19).
The Monarchs surpassed their previous record of 14 blocks in a match, set earlier this season against Appalachian State. De Jesus smashed the old mark of seven blocks in a set, accomplished multiple times.
"I couldn't have been happier with the outcome of this match," head coach Fred Chao said. "The team's resiliency won the match because we got our teeth knocked in in the first set. We had it in neutral for a while, and when we were trying to put it in a gear it was a grind."
UAB (6-7, 2-0 C-USA) hit .310 in a team in the first set, a 25-14 wire-to-wire win. Fernanda Maida opened the set with one of her match-high 32 kills, and the Blazers never looked back. The Monarchs (9-6, 1-1) tied the match at 2-2, but a 6-0 run by the visitors followed. The Blazers' lead never dipped below five for the remainder of the set as ODU strung together multiple points just two times in the entire set.
Old Dominion notched five blocks in the second set and never trailed, winning 25-19. De Jesus had a pair of kills, one solo block and four block assists in the second. ODU broke a 2-2 tie in the early stages of the set and never trailed. Still, the Monarchs were unable to pull away. A 4-1 run put ODU ahead 13-9 then finally broke away by scoring seven of eight points to turn a 15-13 advantage into a 22-14 lead.
UAB limited the Monarchs to a .061 hitting percentage in the third set, taking it 25-21 to put ODU's back against the wall. The Blazers took four of the first five points, but ODU soon tied the set at 5-5. The Monarchs kept in touch with UAB before a 4-1 run of their own put them on top 10-9. Three of ODU's four points in that run came by way of the block with Teresa Atilano collecting two block assists in that span. An Atilano kill put ODU ahead 18-17, but UAB went on a decisive 4-0 run and led for the remainder of the set.
The Monarchs stayed alive with a 25-23 win in the fourth set behind six team blocks and four kills from Hailey Duncan. Facing a stout defensive effort at the net, the Blazers hit just .091 for the set. Neither side led by more than two points early on in another back-and-forth set. The Monarchs pieced together three-straight points to go ahead 11-8 and would hold that lead until a 4-0 Blazer run late in the fourth put the visitors ahead 22-21. A service error stopped UAB's run before a block by Alessia Sgherza and De Jesus made the score 23-22. UAB tied the match on the next point, but the Monarchs secured the final two points of the set.
A 5-0 run with Sgherza on the service line proved to be the difference in the deciding set, a 15-10 win by ODU. Tied at one-all, that run put the Monarchs ahead 6-1. The Blazers chipped away at the deficit and eventually pulled to within two at 9-7, but two kills from Sgherza in the span of three points helped settle the match in ODU's favor. Sgherza's second ace of the set made the score 13-9, but a kill from Maida pulled UAB to within three. Myah Conway followed with a kill, setting up a match-winning ace from De Jesus.
The Monarchs notched nine total service aces on Friday night. Kira Smith had three to match a personal best, and Sgherza and De Jesus had two apiece.
Duncan led ODU with 13 kills on a .357 hitting percentage and chipped in four block assists. The Monarchs were well-balanced on attack and had seven players with four or more kills. Conway was responsible for eight kills and added 11 blocks (one solo, 10 assists), her most this season.
Atilano handed out 38 assists, added four kills, one ace and four total blocks.
Jordan Daniel notched a match-high 25 digs and was one of four Monarchs with 10 or more digs.
The two sides return to the court on Saturday at noon.