Monarch volleyball splits series against UAB


Photo Courtesy to Keith Lee of ODU Sports, taken from ODU v UAB

Originally published October 4, 2021.


It was the final weekend of non-conference play for the Old Dominion volleyball team, as they hosted UAB for a pair of games. The Monarchs came into the weekend 8-6 overall, whereas the Blazers came in at a 6-6 record. Both teams came into the weekend looking to finish the non-conference schedule on a high note, with conference play around the corner.


The Friday night matchup between the two teams was a good one. Monarch nation showed up loud and proud to support their volleyball squad. Throughout the match, the fans made an impact that helped immensely, as the ODU volleyball team overcame deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 to prevail against the Blazers.


The first set was far sided towards the Blazers, as they came out heavy hitting against the Monarchs. The set went back and forth at the beginning, with the score tied at 2-2 until the Blazers went on a 6-0 run and never looked back. The Blazers’ lead didn’t shrink below five the remainder of the set. UAB would go on to win the first set 25-14.


The Monarchs were rejuvenated in the second set as they recorded five blocks and never trailed, taking the set 25-19. The set was close at 15-13 until the Monarchs began to pull away after scoring seven of eight points to extend the lead to 23-14. UAB made a bit of a run towards the end, but it was not enough to come back.


UAB came out strong in the third set as they took an early 4-1 advantage. The Monarchs fought back and tied the set at five. Both squads went back-and-forth throughout the set. ODU had a 18-17 lead until UAB made a late four point run to take the lead 21-18. The Blazers eventually went on to take the set 25-21.


After going down 2-1 in the match, sophomore Hailey Duncan expressed what coach emphasized, which was to play the way they prepared to play. “ Coach told us to just focus on our jobs and work as a team to execute what we’ve been practicing,” Duncan stated.


In the fourth set, both squads were playing tough at the net, and the set was neck and neck early on. ODU found a rhythm and scored three straight points to make the score 11-8. They held the lead until UAB came firing back with a four point run themselves to take the lead late 22-21.The Monarchs scored the next two points behind a service error from the Blazers. A block from graduate student Alessia Sgherza and first year student Olivia De Jesus went on to make the score 23-22. UAB tied the match at 23 on the next point, but ODU secured the set with the final two points. Duncan came alive in the fourth set, helping the Monarchs prevail to take the set to 25-23. This extended the match to the final set, with Duncan recording six blocks and four kills.

Photo Courtesy to Keith Lee of ODU Sports, taken from ODU v UAB


Sgherzia played a pivotal factor in the final set, with a 5-0 run at the service line to take an early 6-1 lead. After a late surge from UAB making the score 9-7, Sgherzia had two kills. Her second ace of the set helped extend the Monarch lead to 13-9. De Jesus ended the match with an ace. Old Dominion went on to win the final set 15-10 and cap off their comeback.


“I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome of this match,” head coach Fred Chao said. “The team’s resiliency won the match because we got our teeth knocked in the first set.


Game two on the weekend was quite similar to Friday’s matchup, but ODU would drop the Saturday matchup in four sets to UAB. The comeback magic from the night before would not happen again. The Monarchs dropped set one 25-22 and came back in the second set with a decisive win 25-18.


The third set was a nail-biter to say the least. Both teams went on scoring runs throughout the set, with ODU scoring five points to turn a 8-5 deficit to a 10-8 lead. UAB shifted the momentum when they went on a seven point run to extend their lead to 20-14, but the Monarchs were not out. ODU made its final push late in the set by going on a 6-0 run to tie the set at 22. Both teams clawed at one another the rest of the way until a couple of attack errors lost the set for the Monarchs. UAB won the set 26-24.


After having control of the fourth set early on, the Monarchs 13-9 lead disappeared after the Blazers went on a 8-1 run to take the lead at 17-14. UAB did not lose that lead for the rest of the set and went on to win the set 25-22, winning the match 3-1 over Old Dominion.


Old Dominion finished the weekend 1-1 and improved their overall record to 9-7 (1-1 C-USA) on the season. The Monarchs will be back at home next weekend as they welcome conference-foe Charlotte. Both Friday and Saturday games will be held at the ODU Volleyball center and are slated for 6 p.m. starts.