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Volleyball Bounces Back with Saturday Sweep of Charlotte

Keith Lucas

NORFOLK, Va. – The Old Dominion volleyball team salvaged a weekend split with Conference USA East Division rival Charlotte with a 3-0 win over the 49ers inside the ODU Volleyball Center on Saturday. The Monarchs (10-8, 2-2 C-USA) successfully rebounded from a straight-sets loss to Charlotte (10-8, 3-3) on Friday.
"It felt like this was our team," head coach Fred Chao said. "This is what we train for. This is how we're meant to play. We're just not always there, so the fact that we can get there after last night's match is another testament to how resilient this team is."
Kira Smith paced ODU with 15 kills, a personal best and tied for the most by a Monarch this season, on a .344 attack percentage. Alessia Sgherza added eight kills and did not commit an error on 19 attempts, hitting .421 on Saturday. As a team, Old Dominion tallied 44 kills and hit .327.
The Monarchs returned to their trademark defense at the net, registering 11 blocks and holding the 49ers to a .203 attack percentage – 143 percentage points lower than Friday night. Hailey Duncan notched a game-high nine blocks, and Myah Conway added four.
"The idea is to be 1-0 each day, but there is also a growth curve to keep in mind," Chao said. "So what we do on the first night influences what we do on the second night. The best thing about this group is that they learn. They're able to execute, and making adjustments is in their toolbox."
ODU staved off three-consecutive set points to top Charlotte 26-24 in the opener. Smith had seven kills in the first set, three coming in ODU's match-deciding 5-0 run. The Monarchs were in control for much of the set and held a 16-10 advantage over the 49ers. ODU still led 19-15 before the guests went on a 4-0 run to tie the match. The next two points went to the Monarchs, but the 49ers scored five consecutive points to bring up match point at 24-21. Smith kept ODU alive with a kill before Charlotte committed an attack error. Smith then tied the score at 24-24, and Teresa Atilano notched a kill to pull ODU on top 25-24. Smith then won the set for the Monarchs with a kill.
The Monarchs tallied five blocks and held the 49ers to a .083 attack percentage to win the second set 25-19. Duncan notched four blocks in the set and added four kills, and Smith had three kills and three blocks each. ODU broke open a close set that featured 11 ties and four lead changes with a late 5-0 run to turn a 19-18 lead into a 24-18 one. Duncan notched two kills, one solo block and one block assist in that decisive run.
Old Dominion secured the sweep with a 25-22 win in the third set. The set was tight early with neither side building a lead greater than one point before the Monarchs went on top 12-10. Shortly thereafter, ODU scored four straight, highlighted by a pair of Smith aces, to build a 16-11 lead. The Monarchs kept control of the set and soon led 23-18, but the 49ers had one final push. Charlotte's Emani Foster scored a kill then followed with a service ace to make the score 23-20 and draw a timeout from the Monarchs. The 49ers took the next point to pull to within two, but Smith righted the ship with a kill of her own. Charlotte won the next point before Duncan won the match for the Monarchs with a kill.
Atilano matched a career-high in kills with five and also had 35 assists, six digs and two blocks. Ashley Peroe started all three sets for ODU and tallied a season-high eight digs. Anna Burkhardt shared the game high with 12 digs.
Foster totaled 14 kills and had 12 digs for a double-double.
The Monarchs hit the road for two C-USA matches at Marshall on Friday, Oct. 15 and Saturday, Oct. 16.