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ODU Volleyball Rallies to Defeat Navy, 3-2, in Quest for Crown Tournament

Virginia Tech Athletics

By Harry Minium

NORFOLK, Va. – Old Dominion's volleyball team pulled out a hard-fought, emotional victory Thursday night in its home opener, rallying from a 2-1 deficit to win the final two sets and defeat the Naval Academy, 3-2, in the ODU Volleyball Center.

Friday night the Monarchs get to do it all over again in what is maybe their biggest home match ever.

ODU hosts Notre Dame at 7 p.m. in the second round of the Quest for the Crown Tournament. Notre Dame takes on East Carolina at noon before playing ODU Friday night.

The Notre Dame-ODU contest matches coaching staffs who are very close. ODU coach Fred Chao roomed with Jeff Rockwell, who is married to Notre Dame coach Salima Rockwell, when he coached at George Mason.

"We played in a band together," Chao said, smiling.

Salima Rockwell, a three-time All-American at Penn State, is in her first year as Notre Dame's coach and is rebuilding. The Irish are 1-4.

Chao mingled with the Notre Dame staff and Salima Rockwell after Thursday's match. Jeff Rockwell and the couples two sons also traveled to Norfolk for the tournament.

"Their staff is like family to me," Chao said. "Our families haven't had a chance to spend real time together, but we will before the weekend is over.

"I'm so appreciative that Salima agreed to come play in our tournament. We're looking forward to a good match."

The Monarchs (3-4) played an entertaining match against Navy, and showed a lot of resilience in their come-from-behind victory.

After winning the first set, 25-22, ODU fell 26-24 in the second and 27-25 in the third set. ODU rallied from an 18-11 deficit in the second set to take a 24-23 lead, but served the ball into the net on set point.

"We hurt ourselves at times with our own mistakes," Chao said.

ODU rolled 25-16 in the fourth set, setting up a nail-biter in the final period.

The set was tied, 14-14, when a Navy service error gave ODU an opportunity to win the match. Bailey Burgess, a freshman from Raleigh, N.C., got the kill after a serve by Ashlynn Belcher, a freshman from Marengo, Ohio, to clinch the match.

Myah Conway led ODU with 18 kills. Burgess was next with 11 and Tessa Mati chipped in 10. Jamie Bissmeyer had a team-high 16 digs, while Mati added 13 and Anna Burkhardt 12.

At the net, ODU tallied 12 blocks and Navy had just four. Teresa Atilano recorded five blocks to go along with her 46 assists. Conway and Bailey had four blocks apiece and Hailey Duncan three.

ODU began the season with three, 3-0 losses at the Northern Arizona Invitational and then won two out of three matches at the Virginia Tech Invitational last weekend.

Chao likes the trend.  

"We finally put it all together tonight," he said. "I think we had our confidence knocked around a bit and when that happens we start looking around and wait for things to happen.

"The message we've given to our players is that we've got to get to the business of winning instead of trying not to make mistakes.

"Tonight, we came to win and we held on."