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Sgherza Ties Single-Match Kills Record in 3-2 Win at Marshall

Keith Lucas

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Alessia Sgherza matched her own single-match kills record with 24 on Friday night as the Old Dominion volleyball team picked up a key road win at Marshall. The graduate student from Massa, Italy was one of four Monarchs with double-digit kills on the night.
Sgherza took 42 total swings and committed five errors for a season-high attack percentage of .452. Additionally, she tallied 13 digs for the seventh double-double of her career and her second this season.
Kira Smith chipped in 13 kills for her fourth-consecutive outing with kills in double figures. The reigning Conference USA Freshman of the Week fell just one dig shy of a double-double. Hailey Duncan and Myah Conway each tallied 11 kills as well.

Friday marks just the second match in the young program's history where four players finished with 10 or more kills. ODU also did so against UNCW last season.

"We've been working on the growth of our young team and what that looks like," head coach Fred Chao said. "I think we took an important step tonight by playing a tough five-set match and coming out on top. We worked at being resilient after errors and staying smart and aggressive throughout the match."
The Monarchs (11-8, 3-2 C-USA) fared well against Marshall's daunting net defense, hitting a collective .246 against the nation's leader in blocks.
The Thundering Herd (7-13, 3-4) held ODU to a .054 hitting percentage in a 25-20 win in the first set. The set was characterized by scoring runs with teams stringing together three or more points in a row five times, including a 7-0 run by Marshall early on. With the set tied 15-15, the Herd tallied five unanswered points to go ahead 20-15 then held the Monarchs at bay to take the set.
Old Dominion bounced back with 15 kills and a blistering .433 attack percentage in a 25-23 second-set win. The Monarchs committed just a pair of attack errors in the second set on 30 total attempts. Duncan and Sgherza had four kills each in the second. ODU gained separation in an otherwise tight set with a 6-1 scoring run to transform a 13-12 advantage into a 19-13 one. Down 21-15, Marshall strung together a 4-0 run to pull to within two and eventually shrunk the gap to a single point at 24-23. On their third try at set point, the Monarchs finished the job by way of a Sgherza kill to even the match at 1-1.
ODU's offensive efficiency took a dip in the third set, a 25-23 loss for the Monarchs. Old Dominion hit just .167 in the third and committed eight attack errors, the most in a set on Friday night. Despite the cold hitting, the Monarchs stayed close with the Herd in the set and took a 19-17 lead on the strength of a 4-0 run that was bookended by a Sgherza kill and one of the Italian's two service aces. Marshall soon answered with a 5-0 spurt of its own to go on top 23-20, but ODU responded with back-to-back points to pull to within 23-22. From there, the two sides traded points until the home team finished off the set with Lydia Montague kill.
The Monarchs stayed alive with a 25-23 win in the fourth set. Sgherza was responsible for seven of ODU's 16 kills in the set on just 10 total attempts. As was the case throughout the night, the set was close early. With the score even at 11-all, Old Dominion won nine of the next 11 points to go ahead 20-13. However, the hosts would not go down without a fight and answered with a 5-0 run. ODU took three of the next four and led 23-19, but the Herd got to within a point at 23-22. Teresa Atilano brought up set point with a kill, but Marshall kept the set going with a block on the next point before Duncan notched a kill to send the match into a decisive fifth set.
Smith won the first point of that fifth set for the Monarchs, and ODU never looked back, leading wire-to-wire. Clinging to a 9-8 lead, Old Dominion took the next three to go up 12-8. From there, the two teams went back-and-forth with Atilano providing the final point of the night by way of her fifth kill.
Atilano matched her personal best with five kills and handed out 52 assists for her fifth match with 50 or more assists at ODU. Additionally, the San Diego native notched seven digs.
Jordan Daniel set the team high with 21 digs, hitting the 20-dig plateau for the fifth time this season. Anna Burkhardt added 12 digs and has ended each of her last five matches with 10 or more digs.
Ciara DeBell had a 14-kill, 15-dig double-double for the Herd and shared the team-high in kills. Sydney Lostumo added a double-double of her own with 54 assists and 14 digs.
With Friday night's win, the Monarchs rise into sole possession of third place in C-USA's East Division. The top four teams in each division receive berths into the conference tournament, which runs Nov. 19-21 at the ODU Volleyball Center.
ODU and Marshall play the second match of the weekend series tomorrow at 1 p.m.