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Volleyball Falls in Four Sets to UAB on Saturday

Keith Lucas

NORFOLK, Va. – The Old Dominion volleyball team could not replicate Friday night's comeback magic the following day as the Monarchs lost 3-1 to UAB in a nonconference match at the ODU Volleyball Center on Saturday afternoon. The Monarchs (9-7, 1-1 C-USA) and Blazers (7-7, 2-0) were closely-matched yet again as ODU never lost a set by more than three points.
"We played some good volleyball at times, but the difference between last night and today was we didn't control the ball as well," head coach Fred Chao said. "I think some of that is learning how to get up for a match every single time and to look past some of the things that don't go well and keep your foot on the gas. There were the parts on the margins that we didn't come through with today that we did last night, and that makes a big difference. Those small things make a big difference in wins and losses."
Saturday's match featured 19 ties and seven changes of the lead. Over their two games, ODU and UAB combined for 46 ties and 17 lead changes across nine sets.
ODU attacked at a .214 clip as a team and received double-digit kills from Hailey Duncan (12), Alessia Sgherza (11) and Kira Smith (10). Duncan took 23 total swings and committed a pair of attack errors for a match-high hitting percentage of .435.
Fernanda Maida notched nine of her 27 kills in the first set, leading the Blazers to a 25-22 win. ODU scored first and led 4-2 before a 6-1 UAB run put the Blazers ahead for good. The Monarchs drew to within a point at 18-17 on the strength of consecutive kills from Smith, but a 3-0 scoring run by the guests proved decisive. Facing a 24-20 hole, the Monarchs scored the next two points, but their comeback was ended by a Maida kill.
ODU hit .417 in the second set, winning it 25-18 to tie the match. The Monarchs were well-balanced in the second set with Duncan registering five kills and Sgherza and Myah Conway tallying four. Old Dominion led wire-to-wire and methodically built its lead, never scoring more than three-straight points at a time. The Monarchs went on a 3-0 run to ice the match, making the score 19-11. A kill from Conway brought up set point at 24-16, but the Blazers prolonged the set with back-to-back points before Duncan ended it with a kill.
Old Dominion had just 10 kills and committed eight attack errors in a 26-24 loss in the third set. Trailing 8-5, the Monarchs rattled off a 5-0 run to pull ahead 10-8, but momentum soon shifted in UAB's favor. The Blazers scored seven points in a row to take a 20-14 lead and seemingly put the set out of reach. Down 22-16, the Monarchs made their push with a 6-0 run to tie the score at 22-all. Smith provided a pair of kills during the run, and she combined with Duncan for a pair of blocks as well. The two sides traded the next four points to make it a 24-24 score before a pair of ODU attack errors ended the set.
UAB won 25-22 in the fourth set to take the match. ODU was in control of the set early and led 13-9 before the Blazers went on an 8-1 run to go ahead 17-14, a lead they would not relinquish. ODU cut the deficit to a point at 17-16, but UAB countered with four unanswered points. From there, the Monarchs would never get closer than two points.
The Monarchs were credited with 15 team blocks on Saturday and finished the two matches with UAB with 34 blocks (3.78 per set). Olivia De Jesus followed up a record-setting performance on Friday night with eight more block assists and had 21 total blocks against the Blazers (2.33). Duncan added seven blocks on Saturday, and Conway tallied four.
"Looking at what was possible for our team, there was potential for blocking to be a strength for us," Chao said. "Especially when Myah and Olivia are in the front row. They're both big and physical players, and they did as much as anybody could do against UAB's two pin hitters, who carry their offense."
Teresa Atilano had 41 assists, eight digs, three kills and three block assists. Jordan Daniel led the Monarchs with 21 digs, and Anna Burkhardt set a new career high with 17 digs.
ODU remains at home for its next two games, this Friday and Saturday against Charlotte. Both matches are set for 6 p.m. starts.