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ODU Volleyball Rolls Past VCU in Opening Round of Quest for the Crown


Olivia De Jesus with a one-handed return

By Harry Minium
NORFOLK, Va. – Preseason rankings are often more guesswork than science. But if the preseason rankings for the Sun Belt Conference and the Atlantic 10 were used as a measure, the Old Dominion volleyball team claimed a big victory Friday night.
Playing before a raucous, near-capacity crowd at the ODU Volleyball Center, the Monarchs downed VCU, 3-1, in their home opener in the first round of the Quest for the Crown Tournament.
ODU meets Norfolk State at 6 p.m. Saturday night in the final match of the tournament. That will be preceded by a noon match between VCU and Norfolk State.
VCU was picked to finish fifth in the A-10 while ODU tied for ninth overall in the Sun Belt preseason rankings with Arkansas State. The Monarchs are predicted to finish fifth in the Sun Belt East.
"I don't think you can draw any conclusion" based on preseason rankings, ODU coach Fred Chao said.
"These first few matches in a season, every team is trying to figure things out. We'll both be very different teams later on this season.
"But this was a really good test for us. It was a great match."

VB-ODU players huddle during the Monarchs 3-1 win over VCU on August 25, 2023
ODU is a different team than it was a year ago. The roster is five players smaller and there is not as much height on the front line, but Chao says his team is more skilled than it was a year ago.
Two skilled freshman played well in their college debuts. Kate Kilpatrick (Raleigh, North Carolina) had 19 digs and Bryanna Jones (Naperville, Illinois) had 14 kills.
"They played fantastic," Chao said. "It's tough playing in your first match but they did really well."

Olivia De Jesus, the only remaining member of Chao's first recruiting class when ODU began its volleyball program four years ago, "had a nice game in the middle," Chao said. Two of her six kills came during a key stretch late in the third set, including a powerful one-hander that clinched the set for the Monarchs, 25-18.

VB-<a href=Myah Conway attacks during ODU's 3-1 win over VCU on August 25, 2023" height="366" src="" width="650" />
Myah Conway skies high on an attempted kill against VCU.  

Preseason All-Sun Belt choice Myah Conway led ODU with 15 kills. The Monarchs served well, with just five service errors to 16 for VCU. Each team had eight service aces.
Teresa Atilano, a senior from San Diego, California, had 38 assists and nine digs and had a very good first game, Chao said. "She ran a great offense and didn't get flustered," he said.

After winning the first and third sets with relative ease, the Monarchs appeared to get flustered late in the fourth set. ODU led, 20-13, but then VCU rallied and knotted the score at 24-24.
ODU finally clinched the match on two kills by Alice Munari, a junior college transfer from Isola Vincentina, Italy.
"We did lose our self-confidence a bit there," Chao said. "But you don't gain self-confidence without struggle.
"So if they're going to struggle and we come out on top, it was a lesson learned."

VB-Members of the ODU Men's Swimming team cheer on volleyball in the Monarchs' match versus ODU on August 25, 2023
ODU Swim team came out in full force to support the volleyball team in its opener. 

The crowd was among the largest and loudest ODU has had and included more than a dozen male members of the swim team, who stood shirtless in the end zone and led the crowd in cheers.
"I know our players appreciate the support and that they feed off it," Chao said. "The crowd was great.
"I'm not sure how much of a jump it was for our players to go from practice and scrimmages to playing in front of this crowd. But it was a jump and I'm pleased that they stepped up the way they did."